UKTI CEO Hails 'Open' Exports Amid Russia Row
The head of the Government's trade promotion agency has hailed Britain's "clear and transparent" export control regime amid a growing row over the number of UK licences allowing arms sales to Russia.
Speaking to Sky News, Dominic Jermey said he was certain that "no part" of the UK supply chain had been involved in the attack on Flight MH17, the Malaysia Airlines plane which was shot down by pro-Russian separatists as it travelled through Ukrainian airspace last week.
He said: "The key thing is to be absolutely clear about the export licensing regime we have in place; clear that we have never exported missiles or missile parts to the Russian military, and nor are we going to.
"The way we approach trading is to have a clear and transparent export control regime so that we know we are doing business in a right and proper way, and avoid any ambiguity."
His comments came on the same day that it emerged that Britain was continuing to export £132m of weapons to Russia, which the Government insisted were for civilian use only.
Sir John Stanley, chairman of the Arms Exports Controls Committee, contradicted that assertion, saying there was evidence that UK-based firms were selling missile parts.
Mr Jermey was speaking from a business conference in Glasgow held to mark the opening of the Commonwealth Games in the City.
A recent arrival at UKTI, Mr Jermey is a former British ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and led the UK's response to the devastating Asian tsunami in 2005.
He said he was confident that UKTI could help the UK meet its Government-imposed target of doubling exports to £1trn by 2020.
"I think it is achievable if there is a step-change in the way we export," he said.
"It means getting the message out there and changing behaviour, which means UKTI working across Government.
"We have an industrial strategy, and we need to work with the private sector in a more deliberate way than we've ever achieved before."
UKTI said earlier this week that its trade promotion efforts were producing strong results, with data showing that it had attracted the highest number of inward investment projects since records began in the 1980s.
"I see UKTI really delivering, with a record number of projects," Mr Jermey said.
"It shows that the UK economy is attractive, with a predictability for long-term rates of return and stability of regulation."
He added that UKTI was now helping 40,000 British-based businesses to export, and said he wanted to see banks, accountants and law firms doing more to promote exports to their small business clients.
Mr Jermey declined to comment on UKTI's approach to September's independence vote in Scotland, saying only that it was a "decision for the Scottish people".
"We believe Scotland is better off in the UK and that the UK is better off with Scotland in it," he said.