The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a huge mandate at the recent general election for his Brexit deal, setting the country on a new course. The UK’s looming departure from the regional bloc after 46 years means that Britain is in search of new sources of trade, influence and alliances. Given its growing influence, the Middle East will be a natural focus for Boris Johnson and his new government as we start looking beyond Europe.
It is therefore no surprise that 155 UK companies will be attending this year’s Arab Health – the 45th edition of this growing event – with UK Ministers and representatives also leading a significant trade delegation. From speaking to clients in the life sciences sector, the focus will be on selling British firms’ expertise to meet the growing Middle East demand for quality healthcare.
This is driven by challenges such as aging populations, rising life expectancy and clinical workforce shortages – as well as increasing interest in cutting edge technology. With healthcare and innovation top priorities for Johnson and his Government, now is the time for UK MedTech companies to really demonstrate their value, both to patients and healthcare systems across the globe.
UK MedTech companies have been steadily growing their footprint in the Middle East and the latest figures indicate that there were nearly £190 million of UK health exports – making it the second biggest region after China. It will therefore remain a key market for UK exporters seeking to maintain their position as world-class leaders in healthcare, medical devices and particularly digital technologies, as the demand for AI continues to grow – with healthcare systems striving to find new ways to increase efficiencies.
It is clear that the UK needs trade deals and must chart a course between the EU and US. That brings opportunities for many MedTech companies in particular, but understanding how the UK will redefine its relationships with the EU and the US through trade talks will be critical. This is something we are increasingly being asked about by companies both big and small and I am sure Brexit will be a key topic of discussion at Arab Health this year.
I look forward to discussing these issues in more detail with colleagues from Lexington, during our presentation at this year’s Arab Health on Tuesday 28 January, from 9:15am in the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) UK Pavilion.
Paul McGrade, is a former EU policy adviser to two British Prime Ministers and now Senior Counsel at Lexington Communications, one of the UK’s leading strategic consultancies. An EU lawyer and expert on UK and European trade policy. Paul advises global businesses and organisations on trade and post-Brexit regulation.