JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As Missouri works to strengthen its economy and develop new opportunities for growth, members of the Missouri House formed a new caucus to bolster trade relations with the United Kingdom.
The formation of the Friends of the U.K. Caucus will help strengthen the longstanding economic bond between continents, according to caucus chairman Rep. Derek Grier.
“In Missouri, the trade partnership that we have with other countries is tremendously important, and perhaps none are more important than what we have with the U.K. just by the sheer volume of trade that we do with them,” Grier told The Missouri Times. “We have over 50 companies that have their headquarters here from the U.K. and a whole host of other business relationships there. It’s good to focus on those, and it’s a way to be creative and drive additional opportunities for growth; finding ways to grow existing relationships helps our economy and helps put more Missourians back to work.”
Twenty-five Missouri companies also have a presence in the U.K., including Hallmark, Enterprise, and Emerson.
Grier said the new caucus would also focus on strengthening the academic, scientific, and cultural bonds between the two governments.
“The purpose of the caucus will be to expand on the open communication we have with the businesses and community in the UK and deepening the cultural ties that we have with them,” Grier said. “I’m not entirely sure what that’s going to look like yet, but Mark Sutherland, the British Consul to Missouri, is helping us in expanding that relationship and finding ways that we can grow new opportunities.”
“Missouri is the birthplace of the special relationship thanks to Sir Winston Churchill’s 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri,” Sutherland. “And this relationship is dynamic and growing, especially in the agriculture and agtech sectors. There are numerous active collaborations and partnerships taking place today between Missouri and the U.K., and to have the support of Missouri’s elected leadership is smashing.”
Grier said the bipartisan caucus is made up of 16 legislators, including Speaker Pro Tem Rep. John Weimann and Rep. Greg Razer, who will serve as vice-chair.
“Missouri and the United Kingdom have powerful innovative ecosystems and deep cultural ties. Together, we can build a strong, global, forward-looking partnership that will impact the world,” Razer said. “In this important time, when the eyes of the United Kingdom are on the U.S. and focused on increasing trade, investment, and partnerships, it is imperative that Missouri be out in front and building more connectivity on the solid foundations that already exist.”
Grier also said members of the upper chamber had expressed interest in getting involved, and he intended to open the caucus up to any legislator interested in the cause.
“I was amazed at all the legislators who were excited when I talked to them about starting the caucus,” he said. “We’re hoping it can be open to all who would be interested in expanding our relationship with the U.K. and growing those opportunities.”