Great Britain, South Carolina strengthen trade ties — here’s why > Columbia Business Report

South Carolina has historical ties to Great Britain that go back hundreds of years, but many may not realize there are two strong ties in trade today.

When you think about international trade and South Carolina, obvious countries like China and countries like Germany with a big BMW presence upstate come to mind.

But Britain and the states are engaged in trade worth $1.95 billion on an annual basis, and a recent visit by Britain’s Secretary of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands, aimed to increase that number even further. I’m here.

Hands was recently in Colombia to meet with Governor Henry McMaster, who signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate trade and investment between the state and the UK. Year. Hands then traveled to California for signings, then to Utah to discuss another signing in early 2023.

This is part of the UK’s “twin track” approach described by Mr. Hands, expanding US trade on two levels by engaging individual states as well as the federal government.

In the future, British officials also hope to engage the states of Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma and Washington toward further agreements.

“A MoU is an agreement to cooperate and work together in areas of mutual interest in trade,” Hands told SC Biz News. “This is a very short, business-like document compared to something like a 1,000-page free trade agreement. With a particular focus on two areas of science, it details how we can work together to grow trade.”

Increased global demand for electric vehicles has made the UK one of the world leaders in the industry, Hands said, and the recent dramatic growth of South Carolina’s electric vehicle sector has boosted trade. This is a great opportunity to do so.

“South Carolina is considered one of the hot spots for the U.S. auto industry, and we want to be part of that action,” he said. “We want to explore how the UK EV sector perceives South Carolina as a good place for growth and investment.”

Hands also mentioned life sciences, the fastest growing industrial sector in the state. The industry is also booming in the UK, particularly Scotland and Wales, providing another area of ​​trade growth, including expanding export opportunities. MoU also focuses on research and building academic partnerships

MoU is supported by British carbon fiber manufacturer Sigmatex, whose North American headquarters are located in Cameron, Orangeburg County.

“As a British company, we have chosen South Carolina as our preferred location in North America due to the many advantages the state offers, including a strong labor pool, a rapidly growing industrial sector and a business-friendly regulatory environment.” says Paul McMullan. , CEO of Sigmatex. “The news that South Carolina and the UK have agreed to his MoU is truly welcome and will undoubtedly bring additional benefits to companies like Sigmatex.”

Hands said the goal is to eventually expand the MoU with South Carolina to focus on a range of industries, including green energy, professional services and more.

“There’s a lot of strong economic growth in the Southeast, and South Carolina is one of the leaders,” said Hands. “The state as a whole has a positive outward view of your growth from the governor’s mansion to the business he leads. We are very interested in your growth and want to continue to play a big role. I think.”

Contact Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.

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