Sorry, Rejoiners! Brexit Britain touted for trade surge with 4 million-strong German state

Brexit: Expert explains why UK won’t rejoin EU

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Martin Dulig, Saxony’s minister of economic affairs, has been in the UK for a whistle-stop tour promoting the region’s business in London, Edinburgh and Birmingham despite the UK leaving the EU. Britain is Saxony’s third most important market, according to MDR, a German regional news channel for the state.

It said today (Friday) that on his trip, Mr Dulig spoke about opportunities he saw for trade between the eastern German state and the UK that could boost exports even further.

The regional minister for economic affairs reportedly wants to promote the hydrogen industry in Saxony, which can also build pipelines.

He said he spoke about these assets with Lord Grimstone, the Minister for Investment, and told him the UK was an “important partner” for Saxony.

The SPD politician, who appears to take a very different position on the UK to his leader Olaf Scholz, recalled that the minister was said to be interested and that further talks would follow.

MDR described the UK as the “Saudi Arabia of wind power” for its many offshore wind farms that provide a significant amount of clean energy.

In 2020, the UK generated 75,610 gigawatt hours of electricity from wind farms, according to ONS statistics.

This would be enough to power 8.4 trillion LED light bulbs.

With Germany’s economy still reliant on heavy industry, which consumes large amounts of fossil fuels, it could be a chance for the UK to become a net exporter of green energy.

But Mr Dulig is said to have other ideas: he reportedly believes that the UK’s burgeoning green energy industry makes it ripe to play a leading role in the hydrogen economy of the future.

Companies in Saxony manufacture electrolysers, which allow water to be split into hydrogen and oxygen.

The energy of the hydrogen can then be harnessed without creating any greenhouse gases.

Yesterday (Thursday), Angus Robertson, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central, said it had been “great to meet” Mr Dulig, adding: “Scotland and Saxony have tremendous potential for economic cooperation, innovation and partnership in renewable energy.”

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He also spoke to Kate Forbes, Scotland’s finance and business minister, and Stephen Doughty, shadow minister for international development

Saxony had a population of 4.078 million as of 2019 according to Eurostat, and in 2021 exported €2.74billion (£2.32billion) in goods and services to the UK – an increase of around a third on the previous year.

Though trade has slumped due to the coronavirus pandemic, trade relationships between Britain and regional German car manufacturers are said to remain strong.

Mr Dulig has been Saxony’s economic affairs chief since 2014, and from the start of his leadership has made foreign trade relations a priority.

A case study in this international outlook is Highvolt, a Dresden-based manufacturer of equipment for testing devices that carry high-voltage electrical energy.

It has been commissioned to provide the testing equipment that will be used on a planned power cable that will run from Morocco to the UK to feed Britain clean, solar energy.

Markus John, managing director of the German firm, estimated that the cable would supply around ten percent of the UK’s consumption when completed.

He noted that it was a remarkable example of how intertwined Saxon and their Anglo neighbours had become.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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