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“If you want to see good news, travel North–East”

This was the headline used in the Sunday Telegraph, by journalist Liam Halligan, after speaking at Square One Law’s recent business dinner.

Forty business leaders from across the region heard insightful predictions about the UK and world economies from economist, broadcaster and Sunday Telegraph columnist Liam Halligan at an event hosted by commercial law firm Square One Law at the Cleveland Tontine Hotel. Liam Halligan, who writes the ‘Economics Agenda’ column in The Sunday Telegraph, gave a straight-talking assessment on the political elite, the global financial crisis, the European Union (EU) and the slow death of global currencies.

He said he was more optimistic about the future of the British economy than for a long time due to recent survey data. Whilst fully acknowledging that the North East region has its fair share of economic problems, he said he thought this proud region plays a vital role in the UK’s commercial life and is the only region in the UK which operates a trade surplus as it exports more than it imports.

His examples included the North East’s close involvement with the country’s globally significant oil and gas industry and that 70% of the drilling platforms operating in the North Sea were built in the region and the sector continues to employ over 65,000 local workers. He also mentioned that the pharmaceutical industry is the UK’s second-biggest industry, which commands a 7% global market share. Wilton, on Teesside, is home to over 1400 companies from the UK and beyond and The North East’s chemical process cluster as a whole employs a quarter of the region’s workforce.

Liam Halligan then talked about the automotive industry as a third of all cars made in the UK are made in the North East, many at Nissan’s flagship Sunderland plant, a source of a significant supply chain business for local manufacturers and service providers. He also mentioned the role the North East is playing in the UK’s renewable energy industry and that the region is well placed to provide manufacturing and maintenance support for the Dogger Bank and the Moray Forth, two of the country’s biggest planned offshore farms.

Ian Gilthorpe, senior partner of Square One Law, said,” We were delighted to host this dinner, following a similar event we held earlier this year with David Smith, economics editor of The Sunday Times. Their views play their part in influencing opinion about the North East which is vital to encourage investment and inform politicians about the region.”

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