(Title Image: Welsh Government, Crown Copyright)
Yesterday, the Minister for International Relations & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales) officially launched the Welsh Government’s International Strategy (pdf). A draft version was published last year.
The three key priorities are:
- Raising Wales’ profile internationally. This includes maintaining or increasing a Welsh overseas presence, co-ordination with UK Government departments and agencies to raise Wales’ profile and making better use of the social reach of the Welsh diaspora.
- Growing the economy by increasing export contribution to the Welsh economy by 5% over the next five years and encouraging inward investment through what are described as “magnet projects” and centres of excellence in cybersecurity, compound semiconductors and the creative industries.
- Establish Wales as a globally responsible nation by promoting the fact Wales was the first country to put UN sustainability goals into law and our excellent recycling record, as well as increasing tree planting in Uganda and becoming a Nation of Sanctuary committed to human rights and promoting peace.
The reaction from AMs was broadly positive.
Shadow International Affairs Minister, Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West), said the strategy was a move towards Wales’ playing to its strengths – which is good news. That said, he wanted the Welsh Government to start practising what they preach to ensure the lofty ideals in the strategy – such as human rights (his proposed law on older people’s rights was voted down) – are upheld. He expressed support for creating a network of envoys.
Delyth Jewell AM (Plaid, South Wales East) thought the final version of the strategy was a big improvement on the draft. She praised the emphasis on sustainable development though, like Darren Millar, expected the Welsh Government to lead by example. How the Welsh Government intends to defend Welsh interests in post-Brexit trade negotiations needs to be properly set out as well, while there was a distinct lack of targets.
Chair of the External Affairs Committee, David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon), kept his enthusiasm in check, asking practical questions on Wales’ involvement with EU programmes after Brexit and how a Welsh overseas presence could be expanded? Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) called for a measure of flexibility in how the strategy works in future, particularly concerning work with existing and new Welsh diaspora groups.
Mandy Jones AM (BXP, North Wales) called for Wales to host a Commonwealth trade summit after Brexit.
Meanwhile, several AMs made the case for Wales to make greater use of culture and soft power to promote ourselves. Delyth Jewell mentioned the Welsh language and music, Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd) described the award-winning Cory Band as “fantastic ambassadors”, while Jack Sargeant AM (Lab, Alyn & Deeside) made a case for games developers to be lobbied to include the Cymru Premier League in future FIFA games* – potentially reaching millions of players globally.
*Before anyone scoffs at the idea, the Irish league – which is of a similar standard and stature to the Cymru Premier – is in FIFA.