A new Welsh Development Agency should be established to help improve Wales’s economy, a Select Committee report has recommended.
The previous agency was scrapped five years ago, but this move was criticised by the Welsh Affairs Committee who said the closure of the WDA has reduced the visibility of Wales in the global market.
The report said: “Nearly five years on from its abolition, the WDA brand remains one of the most recognisable of all Welsh brands. The Welsh Government must urgently consider how existing recognition of the WDA brand can be used to improve and increase Wales's global identity.”
Neil McEvoy, Plaid Cymru Councillor for Fairwater and Executive for Transport and Economy, said: “As a city, we are attempting to internationalise Cardiff but there is little help offered to us in doing so. Ideally we should be reforming the WDA as at a time when inward investment is at an all time low we need such a body to bring in capita.”
In the thirty years the WDA was in existence it was instrumental in creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and bringing in billions of pounds in investment opportunities. The Committee have called for the establishment of a dedicated trade promotion agency, either as a branch of the Welsh Government or as a quango.
The report added: “Such a body should have a mix of skills with an emphasis on private sector experience.”
Despite these criticisms, the committee welcomed the Welsh Government’s plans to establish a series of enterprise zones throughout the country, including one in Cardiff. These new zones would offer incentives to encourage investment in new businesses, but opponents have claimed Labour are dragging their feet over implementing the proposals.