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From Site Selection magazine, May 2024

Eight States and More to Come

United Kingdom
Getty Images
by Adam Bruns
UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch
UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch
Photo courtesy of DBT

K Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch welcomed Texas Governor Greg Abbott to London in March to sign a trade pact that “aims to help make it quicker, easier, and cheaper for UK and Texas firms to do business by tackling trade barriers, growing investment and driving commerce between the UK and Texas.”

The UK Department for Business and Trade (DBT) announcement noted that the GDP of Texas (£1.9 trillion or US$1.2 billion in 2022) was larger than that of Italy. The UK is the Lone Star State’s eighth-largest goods export market and total trade in good between the UK and the state came to £14.7 billion ($US18.2 billion) in 2023. Top products exported to Texas from the UK come in such sectors as nuclear equipment, aircraft and pharmaceutical products, said the DBT. The new arrangement, it said, “is targeted at sectors where the UK and Texas have shared expertise such as new energy solutions — including hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization, and storage; life sciences; and professional business services.

The UK seeks to unlock more than 12,000 jobs and up to £11 billion of investment by 2030 in the hydrogen sector. Meanwhile, its ‘BioBridge’ collaboration with Texas Medical Center in Houston has already supported efforts by more than 30 innovative UK life sciences companies to grow their businesses in Texas, said the DBT. One of them is Paxman Coolers, whose CEO Richard Paxman said, “We are thrilled to hear that the UK and Texas have signed a SMC to enhance trade and economic development ties. We have been working in Texas since 2013, setting up our U.S. HQ in Houston in the heart of the Texas Medical Center. This dynamic state is one of our largest U.S. markets, representing 20% of our $10 million business.”

A previous pact was signed in November with Florida. The UK now has signed such pacts with eight states (see map), including Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington State. Altogether those states’ GDPs are greater than that of Japan and equivalent to one-quarter of the U.S. economy. The UK is in active discussions to conclude MoUs with further states, including California, Colorado, and Illinois.

In her remarks, Secretary Badenoch noted one aspect surely to be of interest to employers hungry for talent: The pact will support recognition of professional qualifications. “Texas is already signed up to the mutual recognition agreement for architects which UK and U.S. bodies concluded last year,” she said, “and there is ongoing work towards a similar agreement for engineering.”

The mutual recognition agreement between the UK’s Architects Registration Board and their U.S. counterpart NCARB includes 44 U.S. states and territories. The forthcoming engineering agreement between the UK’s Engineering Council and their U.S. counterpart NCEES “would open opportunities for individuals and businesses, covering areas such as trade, knowledge sharing and cooperation, as well as helping to address skills shortages in critical areas,” the Engineering Council said in February, anticipating a signing this spring and an official launch in August.

Some Data Available, Some Not

The most recent data on inward FDI were released in June 2023, showing that in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, outside of London (528 projects, 20,647 jobs), the West Midlands saw the most FDI projects (181) and related job creation (8,252), followed by the North West with 137 projects and Scotland and the South East with 130 projects each.

U.S. companies accounted for 418 of the 1,654 FDI projects that landed in the UK. Those projects are creating 20,434 new jobs and safeguarding another 1,665 jobs, according to the DBT.

Asked how many of those projects come from companies based in the eight states with which the department now has trade agreements, a spokesperson said that because the project data is taken from a subscription to, even the DBT itself does not have permission to share the data with non-subscribers.

The spokesperson further clarified other MoUs and ongoing arrangements, including an MoU between the UK and Medical Alley in Minnesota; an MoU between the UK Department for Transport and the city of Los Angeles on reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and an MoU on clean energy with Maine. 


Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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