I have always been corny – a bit banal and sentimental. I adore romantic comedies. I watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year and I cry when I watch Les Miserables – every time. I could easily add more to the list. I thought I would bring this corniness to my blog this year and so I am sprinkling it with Christmas analogies. Not that Christmas itself is corny – it is of course one of our finest traditions and a religious holiday. But taking it overboard might be a bit corny. I will be paralleling some of our UK Christmas traditions with trade and investment opportunities. So here we go. I might go a bit overboard with Christmas trees, Christmas crackers and carol singers, but please bear with me.
The Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square and Energy
Every year since 1947 we’ve received a new Christmas Tree, which stands in Trafalgar Square, close to Nelson’s Column. The tree is transported from the Norwegian woods and shipped to London as a gift from Norway to the UK. It is a gift of gratitude for British support of Norway during the Second World War. The tree is dressed with white lights and brightens the area around Trafalgar Square all the way through Christmas.
Energy supply is an important topic on the UK’s agenda. The new UK Energy Bill is just going through Parliament and energy supplies remain important – both for the present and the future – to make sure that the (tree) lights stay on, that electricity prices are reasonable and that electricity production is as green as possible.
What does energy or electricity have to do with the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree from Norway? Just as with the bilateral tree and its lights – we have enormous opportunities between Scandinavia and the UK. Norway, with its oil and gas, Denmark with its wind power and not least Sweden, with its know-how in renewable energy, are all great trade and investment partners, particularly when it comes to information exchange and cooperation regarding research and development in this field. We already enjoy great cooperation, but I foresee this deepening in the years to come.
Christmas crackers full of ICT
Christmas crackers are a pretty modern British tradition. They were invented in the UK in 1847. You wrap a small toy or trinket in festive paper, pop in some chemicals for the popping sound and – voilà – you’ve got a festive toy to surprise both adults and small children at dinners around Christmas and New Year. If you are lucky, you will also get a joke or some words of wisdom added in your Christmas cracker. The last one I opened contained a real classic:
Q – What do polar bears wear on their heads?
A – Ice caps.
So what does a Christmas cracker have to do with trade and investment in ICT? Well, not very much. But somehow the suspense involved in trying to guess in which ways the increasing range of things we can do with ICT will go next reminds me of the suspense around the pulling of a cracker. And the opportunities between the UK and Sweden seem immense in this sector. Both countries have sophisticated industries. The UK has a bigger market and more access to capital, while Sweden is renowned for its high technical and creative capabilities. I foresee a lot of exciting things happening in this sector. Some colourful ‘popping’ for the future.
Carolling for Infrastructure and Construction
Brits have been carolling since the Middle Ages. We go around to each other’s houses in villages and cities and sing carols. It is a way of giving our friends and neighbours some holiday cheer and warm wishes for the coming year.
People are of course the foundation of our society. Festive carolling and caring for neighbours reminds me of all the infrastructure plans we have in Sweden and in the UK. Improving infrastructure is another way of caring for and building our society. Within rail and road we have tremendous opportunities in the Swedish market and we are already vigorously assisting British companies in accessing those opportunities – with more to come. The UK also needs assistance in renewing its infrastructure and investment opportunities in the UK are plentiful. I hope during the years to come that we at UKTI will be able to match many more companies with these opportunities.
So with those fine British Christmas traditions and bilateral trade and investment opportunities in mind, I would like to apologise for being a bit corny, but more importantly I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We have some exciting times ahead of us.
Let the holidays begin!