Deputy Prime Minister & Business Secretary join business leaders for "first of its kind" declassified economic security briefing

Press release dated 11 December 2023

  • The Deputy Prime Minister chaired the first meeting of the Economic Security Public-Private Forum on Monday. The Deputy Prime Minister and Business Secretary are co-chairs of the Forum, which will meet quarterly. 
  • Attendees from 11 businesses across sectors like AI, communications, and defence received a declassified threat briefing from the National Protective Security Authority.
  • The meeting builds on commitments made in the Integrated Review Refresh 2023 for closer cooperation with businesses on security.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Business and Trade joined leaders from some of the most critical sectors of the UK economy on Monday, for a declassified economic security briefing from the National Protective Security Authority.

The briefing took place during the first meeting of the Economic Security Public-Private Sector Forum, which has been convened by the Deputy Prime Minister to share intelligence-led advice and promote greater cooperation with businesses on national security. 

During the briefing, business leaders were told the threats posed by terrorists and states are diversifying. State actors are increasingly seeking to steal intellectual property from both established businesses and emerging technologies developed in the UK. Attendees were then briefed on the steps their organisations can take to defend themselves.

Businesses represented at the Forum included: Babcock; Blueskeye AI; UK Finance; British Ports Association; Amadeus Capital Partners; Vodafone; Rio Tinto; BT; ARM; Tesco; and EY. These businesses were invited because they are from the most strategically important sectors of the UK economy, such as artificial intelligence, communications, and defence. 

Future meetings of the Forum will take place quarterly, with each receiving a declassified economic security briefing from relevant experts. The record of discussions will remain confidential to encourage open communication between attendees. 

During the meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister also chaired a discussion about the risks arising from artificial intelligence and the Secretary of State for Business and Trade facilitated a discussion about the government’s security regimes and businesses’ experience of current threats.

Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, said: 

"Economic security is a critical part of the UK’s overall national security - aligned to our ability to compete globally. 

"We need to work with the private sector, sharing our understanding of potential risks to our economy and agreeing on what we need to do in partnership to secure our national advantage, ensuring the UK remains a safe and dynamic place to invest. 

"Today’s meeting, the first of its kind, brings together businesses from some of the most critical sectors of our economy for an intelligence briefing from one of the country’s most senior security officials.

"The Forum is one of the ways we’re co-designing solutions to shared challenges with business, providing intelligence that will allow them to make informed decisions and encourage further cooperation on national security matters."

Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said: 

"The UK is one of the best places in the world to do business, which is why we’ve attracted £29.5 billion of investment at last month’s Global Investment Summit and are the number one destination in Europe for new investment projects.

"This Forum is important for sharing intelligence-led advice with businesses, and we’ll continue to engage with industry to gather feedback as we work to protect UK firms from economic security threats."

Both the Forum and the National Protective Security Authority were originally announced in the Integrated Review Refresh 2023, which committed the government to work more closely with businesses to ensure the UK remains one of the most secure places in the world to invest. NPSA’s briefing to the Forum forms part of their ambition to reach many more organisations with user-friendly protective security information.

The Forum is just one of the ways the government has stepped up business engagement on economic security in recent months. In November, the Deputy Prime Minister met with business leaders at the AI Summit to build support for the Bletchley Declaration. Later in the month, the Deputy Prime Minister launched a Call for Evidence to consider ways to make the government’s investment screening powers more transparent and proportionate for businesses. This is due to close on 15th January 2024.

Earlier this year the Prime Minister and US president signed the Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century U.S.-UK Economic Partnership which will see our countries work together more closely than ever before across the full spectrum of our economic, technological, commercial and trade relations.

Alongside the Integrated Review Refresh, the government published the Critical Minerals Refresh to recognise the changing global landscape and set out a refreshed approach to delivering the Critical Minerals Strategy. Government is engaging with UK industry to mitigate vulnerabilities in their critical mineral supply chains.  

The Department for Business and Trade published the UK’s first battery strategy, alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Plan. In it the government committed over £2 billion in new capital and R&D funding for the automotive sector and pledged to support the manufacturing and development of zero emission vehicles, their batteries and supply chain between 2025 and 2030.

The UK and its international partners have implemented the most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy, prohibiting Russia’s access to the technology, expertise and revenues that it needs for its illegal invasion of Ukraine. The Department for Business and Trade has also announced the creation of the Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of UK’s trade sanctions.

Cabinet Office
The Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP
The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP