Wales needs a new, ambitious strategy setting out how it will engage with the world after Brexit, the National Assembly's External Affairs Committee has said.
As part of its work on Wales' future relationship with Europe and the world, the Committee found considerable work is needed on the part of the Welsh Government, to enhance Wales' profile on the world stage after Brexit.
The Committee's Chair, David Rees AM said:
"With our imminent departure from the EU, it is clear that Wales needs a new strategy for international engagement to take account of the major changes that lie ahead. We welcome the appointment of a Cabinet-level Minister with responsibilities for international relations, however, we are clear that the Minister has considerable work to do in defining a strategic approach to international engagement. This includes working out what Welsh priorities are, and working with other ministerial portfolios such as the economy, and education, to make it happen."
Sir Emyr Jones Parry, a former UN ambassador and President of the Learned Society of Wales, told the Committee that:
"We need a strategy, and, crucially, what do we want? What are our assets? How can we influence? Where is soft power? And how do we prioritise? That's the challenge for the nation."
In terms of relations with Europe and the EU after Brexit, the Committee heard that Wales, and its new Minister for International Relations, will have to work much harder to gain access and influence in future.
David Rees AM said:
"As we face a future outside the formal structures and institutions of the European Union, Wales will have to work much harder to gain access and influence on the international stage. Historically, we have enjoyed the benefits of European programmes and networks through the UK's status as a Member State. However, this should not preclude Wales looking for new partnerships in creative ways after Brexit and we are urging the Welsh Government to do just that where there are clear benefits to Wales."
"We also want to see continued Welsh engagement with institutions such as the European Parliament and hope that discussions can continue to allow this to happen."
Whilst the focus of the Committee's work was broader than trade, figures available for 2017 show that out of a total of £16.5 billion in exports, 60 per cent went to the European Union and the remaining 40 per cent was to the rest of the world. The figures also show that 16 per cent of exports went to North America and 9 per cent went to Asia.
The Committee also looked at how the Welsh Government could make more of its unique assets – its people, culture and language – to promote Wales around the world.
Specific attention was given to connecting with Welsh communities overseas to realise Welsh ambitions, following models used successfully both other countries, including Scotland and New Zealand. But the Committee learned the Welsh Government had no plans in place to do this.
The Committee makes a total of eleven recommendations to the Welsh Government including:
Recommendation 1: We recommend that the new international engagement strategy for Wales sets out the scale of the Welsh Government's ambition in terms of international engagement after Brexit and that, in response to this report, the Welsh Government sets out the anticipated timescales for publication of this work.
Recommendation 7: We recommend that the Welsh Government draws up an action plan for engaging with the Welsh diaspora. This action plan should include details of which countries will be prioritised and how the Government will seek to achieve this.
Recommendation 8: We recommend that the Welsh Government commissions an independent baseline analysis, for example by the Wales Audit Office, of the operation of the Government's overseas offices. Subsequently, these baselines should be used to measure progress made by the offices, in line with the forthcoming international strategy.
Read the full report:
Wales’ future relationship with Europe and the world (PDF, 2 MB)