New Trade and International Relations Minister needed to sell Wales to the world
Wales needs a new trade and international relations minister responsible for selling Wales to the world, according to the National Assembly's Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee. It also concluded the Welsh Government's 16 overseas offices need a clearer purpose and a measurable criteria for success.
The Committee found "pockets of good practice and innovation" across different government departments during its inquiry, which focused on three key sectors; tourism, trade and inward investment and education.
However good practice was few and far between and not enough was being done to draw those strings together for a more coherent approach to selling Wales to the world.
The Welsh Government's 16 international offices, which include five in the United States and three in China, are responsible for trade and investment, government relations, tourism, culture and education.
The Committee found that their roles were either unclear or unknown to Welsh businesses looking for overseas opportunities. Each overseas office should have a clear remit and performance plan, says the Committee.
It has also reiterated a call for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be devolved to Wales, as in Scotland, after hearing evidence that it suppresses growth in the tourism sector and employment prospects while hampering Cardiff airport's ability to expand.
"Wales is a small nation in a big world. But now, more than ever, we need to be reaching out and developing the links that will help us prosper and grow," said Russell George AM, Chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee.
"With Brexit approaching, it has been widely acknowledged that there will be challenges and opportunities ahead, both as we renegotiate our relationship with our neighbours in Europe and as we look beyond those borders to seek new affiliations with emerging or expanding markets.
"It is clear to the Committee that more can be done to sell Wales to the world in a strategic and joined up way.
"Overseas offices should have their roles and remits made clear and, crucially, the next First Minister should seriously consider creating a specific cabinet post to combine responsibilities for international trade and Brexit implementation. The time to get this right is now."
The Committee makes 14 recommendations in its report including:
The Welsh government should develop an export growth strategy to prepare companies for international markets and increase the number of companies exporting,
The Cabinet Secretary should publish a detailed remit for the overseas offices, and report to the Assembly annually on the delivery against the business plan for each office, and;
The Welsh Government should continue to lobby the UK Government on the devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales."
The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.
Read the full report:
Selling Wales to the World (PDF, 1 MB)