David Prosser: It's time to learn a new language

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The Independent Online

Outlook In leading British trade missions to both India and China this year, Mr Osborne demonstrated he recognised the importance of these global economic powerhouses in dragging the world out of recession. But winning goodwill in Asia is only half of the equation: Britain's exporters need more help if they are to compete with rivals that are courting the Chinese and the Indians just as assiduously.

It's also important to recognise that overseas trade is a two-way street. So far, Mr Osborne has rightly rejected any return toprotectionism, recognising the threat to inward investment from that course of action. Don't give in to the temptation to be populist, Chancellor, even if another Cadbury comes along.

Nor should Mr Osborne neglect his European languages. The crisis in the eurozone is still bubbling away beneath the surface: witness the sharp rise in borrowing costs for Italy seen in recent days. Britain is not immune from eurozone contagion, which is why Mr Osborne felt compelled to participate in the bail-out of Ireland, but it will be difficult to convince eurosceptics that further participations in rescue schemes are acceptable or necessary.

Lastly in the linguistic department, it's time the Chancellor brushed up on his jargon. The biggest single obstacle facing many British businesses is the red tape produced by the tax and regulatory systems. Every Chancellor arrives in office promising simplification: if Mr Osborne can make a start on that task this year, the rewards will be worth it.

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