This new report draws together a variety of evidence to examine the North East's current strengths and weaknesses as an 'international gateway' to the world, and the potential it has to drive northern and national growth by enhancing business connectivity with the global marketplace.

The north east of England has an export-oriented economy - but are its transport and telecoms systems equal to those of its foreign and domestic competitors? The North East is home to two international airports, six ports and 10,000 miles of road, and 14.2 million passenger journeys are made by rail in the region each year. Add to this the fact that the broadband speeds of three quarters of the local authority areas in the North East outstrip the national average, and the region looks well-placed to maintain its global orientation.

Based on a literature review, data analysis and a series of interviews and roundtables with businesses and other stakeholders in the North East, this report makes the case that the region can't afford not to enhance its transport systems and international connectivity. Considering five modes of connectivity - the 'international gateways' of air, sea, road, rail and digital - we explore the region's strengths and weaknesses, identify the forces that shape demand and supply, and look at competition and complementarity on a wider scale both within and between the different modes.

Drawing on the concept of multi-modality, the report offers a series of concrete recommendations that - by promoting better, more coordinated policy and strategic investment, and encouraging greater cooperation between different authorities, sectors and modes of transport - would boost the region's international competitiveness and benefit the UK economy as a whole.

Is the North East in the digital slow lane?

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