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PM hails deal to export red buses to Mexico with aid of taxpayers' cash

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/pm-hails-deal-to-export-red-buses-to-mexico-with-aid-of-taxpayers-cash-11000649">PM hails deal to export red buses to Mexico with aid of taxpayers' cash</a>
 

A British firm is to sell 90 red double-decker buses to Mexico - after the Government put up £1.7bn of taxpayers' money to help exporters.

Prime Minister Theresa May says the financial support for firms has helped more than 130 of them expand and win overseas contracts in the past year as part of her plan to build a "truly global Britain".

But a pro-EU campaign group countered that increasing trade with "relatively small and distant partners" like Mexico "cannot come close" to matching the trade Britain does with Europe.

Mrs May will head to Guildford in Surrey later to visit bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis, which has secured a £44m finance deal to sell the iconic double-deckers to Mexico City.

Around 2,000 jobs across the UK, including 320 at its Surrey site and 1,000 in Falkirk, Scotland, will be secured by the deal.

The Government says the £1.7bn awarded by UK Export Finance (UKEF) since it became a part of the Department for International Trade has helped businesses make the most of the opportunities offered by Brexit.

After leaving the European Union, Britain will be able to strike free trade deals with countries across the globe, something the Government argues will be a boon for British firms.

Mrs May said: "We are building a truly global Britain by helping UK companies win multi-million pound contracts to export their products across the globe, and supporting high-value jobs here in this country.

"Since last summer, the Government has provided over £1.7bn of backing for contracts for goods and services and will continue to maximise investment in the UK and seek exciting new opportunities ahead.

"From exporting iconic red double-decker buses to Mexico, cutting-edge MRI (Shenzhen: 300159.SZ - news) systems to Australia or rail equipment to Bangkok, each one is an example of a great British success story and shows the UK is leading the way as a great, global trading nation."

But critics argue the trade agreements won't make up for the UK's decision to leave the EU's single market.

James McGrory, executive director of Open Britain, said: "We should always welcome British firms experiencing success in exporting to markets old and new.

"But the fact is that Mexico accounts for less than 0.4% of our exports, while the EU accounts for nearly half.

"Increasing trade with relatively small and distant trading partners like Mexico cannot come close to replacing the trade we do with Europe that will be lost if we leave the Single Market and the Customs Union, as the Government is proposing."

Colin Robertson, chief executive of Alexander Dennis Limited, hailed the deal, saying: "It is hugely exciting to know that ADL's signature red double-decker buses will soon be transporting Mexico City's residents in style and comfort.

"As a global double-decker leader with fleets of our vehicles across the world, we see the positive impact these vehicles can have in improving the transport infrastructure, congestion and air quality in the world's busiest cities.

"Our ability to offer finance from UK Export Finance in Mexican Pesos was a significant benefit to our buyer, helping us win this major contract."

Other deals trumpeted by the Government include Guildford-based MR Solutions securing a £1.2m deal to sell MRI scanners to Sydney University thanks to UKEF guarantees.

Hampshire engineering company Design and Projects was also given financial support to export rail equipment to Bangkok, while London furniture company Distinction secured finance for work at the Palm Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.

Meanwhile, bike firm Norton Motorcycle - which sells to Australia, North America, Japan and Europe - got backing under the scheme to help finance its exports.