Leave the WDA in the past, Lord Rowe-Beddoe tells IWA

Lord Rowe-Beddoe wants a 'bigger bang for our buck'

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The former chair of the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) says it should not be brought back.

Lord Rowe-Beddoe was speaking after recent reports criticised levels of inward investment in the seven years since it was abolished.

But he told a conference Wales "cannot go backwards".

The Welsh government said recently that its new way of attracting investment was "flexible" while the WDA had run its course.

Lord Rowe-Beddoe's comments come after the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee last month called for a successor to the WDA to market Wales around the world.

Speaking at an Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) conference, Lord Rowe-Beddoe said there could still be a role for an external expert panel to advise the Welsh government and provide support on the issue.

'Deteriorated'

"I do not believe that you can recreate something that has gone," he said.

"The past is past and I think we have got to look to the future.

"We have got to learn from the past, that's fine.

"We are where we are, we must build on what we've got."

Lord Rowe-Beddoe called on the Welsh government to work more closely with UK government's trade and investment arm which he said has an existing and proven network around the world.

He cited the example of the Prime Minister's recent trade mission to India and claimed that none of the 200 representatives from the private sector that accompanied David Cameron were from Welsh companies.

The WDA was abolished by a "bonfire of the quangos" in 2006.

A Welsh Affairs Committee report said Welsh success in attracting foreign businesses has deteriorated since the late 1980s and early 90s when it accounted for 15% of investment into the UK. By 2009-10 it was down to 6%.

A Welsh government spokesman said previously it has established a "major" projects team to lead on trade and investment.

"Our new model is a more flexible and responsive model and fit for the future, not simply a throw-back to the WDA, which had run its course," he said.

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