“There has never been a better time to expand or invest in the US.” That was the message from US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Yael Lempert, at a recent event hosted by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM and SelectUSA at the US Embassy in London.
Around 80 UK executives with US interests attended the event entitled ‘US expansion and investment strategies beyond Brexit’.
After a welcome from Minister Counsellor for Commercial Affairs Rosemary Gallant and an opening speech by Deputy Chief of Mission Yael Lempert, RSM’s Brexit lead partner Simon Hart and Gus Franklyn-Bute, senior regional investment advisor from the US Commercial Service, set the scene by looking ahead to the trade negotiations due later this year – highlighting some of the areas of common interest as well as the potential flashpoints.
This was followed by an upbeat assessment of the outlook for the US economy over the coming year, delivered by RSM’s US chief economist Joe Brusuelas.
Amid a decline in trade tensions with China, he forecast a 2 per cent growth rate in the US economy, with unemployment remaining at around 3.5 per cent and inflation of around 2 per cent – conditions which were conducive to UK firms looking to expand their operations.
Joe pointed to a number of economic hotspots around the US, notably California, Texas and New York, as well as areas to watch such as Utah where the software sector is experiencing significant growth.
However, he cautioned that businesses and investors needed to keep a close eye on risks. These included policy errors in trade or central banking (which could include an intensification of the trade war with China or tariffs on US imports from the UK or EU), liquidity events or heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
He also argued that despite the US Administration’s current protectionist rhetoric, the US economy was deeply embedded with the global economy, both in terms of goods and services, and finance, and this would be likely to increase in the future with the development of the cross border digital economy.
Phil Melia, tax director for RSM in Cambridge, said: “Cross border trade with the US totals over £190 billion and we see many Cambridgeshire businesses already investing in the US or actively investigating the right time to make a move.
“With the prospect of a free trade deal on the horizon, and with current economic conditions looking favourable, now may be the time for Cambridge growth businesses to think about expansion into the US.
“This needs proper consideration and there are many cultural, legal, tax, financial and regulatory barriers to overcome, but with the right advice and support, the rewards can be great.
“We are planning another event later in the year in Cambridge, bringing together Simon Hart and Joe Brusuelas so watch this space for more details.”