Our partners, Bluebox, share their perspective on why the United Kingdom is the best place in the world to do business
The UK was recently named the country with the best business climate in the world by Forbes, despite Brexit dominating headlines. It is the second year running that the nation has claimed top spot, and it should assuage fears that the UK has lost its competitive edge.
Forbes’s ranking is a holistic one, making use of 15 different factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, infrastructure, market size, political risk, quality of life, workforce, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, and investor protections.
Data was obtained from indices produced by World Bank, the Heritage Foundation, Freedom House, the World Economic Forum, the Property Rights Alliance, and the United Nations. Each data source is itself an aggregation of data points, ranging from the ease of registering property to life expectancy even to freedom of assembly.
Reassuringly, the UK was the only country in the sample to rank in the top 30 on every factor considered. Barring a catastrophic Brexit scenario, which is decreasing in likelihood by the day, none of these metrics are likely to change in the coming year. The UK is thus well-positioned to continue its reign as the world’s “best country for business” going forward.
Perhaps the results shouldn’t be so surprising. There are four key components to the success of business in any economy: availability of capital, availability of talent, access to markets, and state commitment to enterprise. The UK is the strongest in Europe when it comes to each one.
In the first instance, capital remains available to SMEs and entrepreneurs. The UK retains the most developed financial markets in the world. Equity and debt capital access are underpinned by healthy stock markets and extensive bank presence. Companies worldwide are clamoring to invest, too: the UK saw more M&A in 2018 than any other European country by deal size and by deal volume. It is also Europe’s top destination for foreign direct investment.
In terms of talent, the UK is unmatched. Its skilled workforce is only buttressed by a stream of domestic and international graduates from some of the top universities in the world—from Oxford to Cambridge to LSE and beyond. In general, business and economic education is considerably more sophisticated, widespread, and popular than on the continent.
The UK is central to the functioning of global markets. Beyond its 66 million-strong consumers, much of Europe’s financial infrastructure is in London. The city is the centre of the Eurodollar market, the location of the world’s foreign exchange servers, and where all Euro-denominated trades clear. In short, the UK does not simply afford its businesses ample access to the markets - the UK makes the market.
Earlier this month, the government redoubled its commitment to the growth of UK enterprise. HM Treasury pledged an additional £200m to the British Business Bank. The pledge is a welcome complement to the £5.9bn in growth capital the Bank has already disbursed to 82,000 startups and mid-market players, from artificial intelligence startups to waste management specialists. Nowhere else in Europe is government commitment to SME growth so robust.
Political developments be what they may, the UK is still very much a dynamic business environment and a great place to build a career. We at Bluebox don’t see that changing any time soon.
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