Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th March

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Dear Members & Friends,

Although I’m not a fan of inclement weather, as Storm Gareth, or Hannah depending on when you read this, gathers momentum I am grateful for the welcome diversion it provides to UK politics. Though like you I am really conscious of the sea of uncertainty and tumult it brings to the delivery of business on a daily base at the moment. In planning terms the political storm’s track is unhelpfully not clear – whether it will bring destruction or the worst veer away.

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At home in Grafton Street on Wednesday, The D Group welcomed Charles Gibbons of The Francis Crick Institute to discuss '5G'. Until very recently, Charles was the Chief Domain Architect at BT and was at the forefront of their 5G roll-out. Clearly, the applications of 5G will transform the way society operates as it allows greater penetration and coverage of data. It is not about speed as many of us thought. There was much blue sky thinking of the application of this technology and what future applications will involve. We wish Charles all the best with his new role at The Francis Crick Institute.

In a similar vein I met with Pearson, the UK education giant and new BEI member, this week. We discussed some of the possible implications of an increasingly digital approach in the classroom and what might be some of the challenges related to that. How much technological delivery should we embrace and who makes the judgement on when to draw a line? To this end we will be developing a series of events with this topic in mind and hope that many of you will join us to explore and debate a subject that impacts our own families as well as the communities many of us work with in developing parts of the world. There are potentially some really significant opportunities here as many of you know.

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Due to Parliamentary commitments, the D Group lunch with Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, due to take place on Thursday was postponed. An efficient transport system based on a coherent long term plan must be an essential plank of a post- Brexit domestic policy . Whilst we work to get the SoS back we look forward to both the chair of Transport for the North in June and the DEPT of Transport Permanent Sec in September.

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At times of certain uncertainty, it is good to have something positive to look forward to. The 2019 BEI Awards Dinner is next month and certainly one such event. Our President, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester will help us present the winners their awards, assisted by Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of Export and Trade Promotion at DIT, who will deliver our keynote speech. Collaboration and positive social impact are just two key themes of the awards showcasing successful projects that straddle neighbouring countries, and overcome cultural, legal and economic differences as well as obstacles such as challenges in security, poor healthcare and immense poverty. Booking is open and we look forward to seeing you all. Last year’s event was fabulous which, we of course, are aiming to repeat and take to the next level.

Best wishes for a weekend of decent rugby and some solid R&R.

With best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 20th March – The D Group
What is AI actually being used for today? – A discussion on real case studies
Adrian Gregory, CEO UK & Ireland, Atos

Thursday 21st March – Strategy International
Networking Reception: Celebrating Nauryz
Strategy International & D-Contemporary – Drinks Reception

Monday 25th March – British Expertise
Turkmenistan: Briefing with British Embassy ahead of TUKTIC
Ronald Nash, Co-Chair, TUKTIC
HE Thorda Abbott-Watt, British Ambassador to Turkmenistan
Arslan Garryyev, Head of International Trade, British Embassy in Ashgabat

Tuesday 26th March – The D Group
UK-Turkey Relations
H.E Ümit Yalçınn Turkish Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey, London

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th March

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Dear Members & Friends,

Taken during my 3 week ‘Brexit escape strategy’ in Antarctica; a suitable metaphor, I thought, for public boredom with the ‘B’ word.

Business must go on and amidst the uncertainty I’m glad to see Strategy and its members producing highly informative events. It was a very busy week.

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BEI’s Middle-East Access Group (MEAG) hosted Khaled Al Khulifah, First Secretary – Head of the Political Section at the London Embassy of Kuwait, on Tuesday. Anglo-Kuwaiti relations have been strong for many years and 2019 marks the 120th anniversary of the first treaty signed between the two countries. This treaty, kept secret at the time, was enormously significant for both countries and, according to records, was the first formal engagement ever executed between a ruler of Kuwait and the government of any country. The First Secretary brought things up to date with an overview of the strategy for New Kuwait 2035 and commented on a number of areas for collaboration and opportunity during a Q&A session.

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Cardiff University’s Dr Pete Burnap addressed key themes in the UK’s cyber-projection strategy and the important role of 17 UK universities in general, and Cardiff in particular, in combining to give the nation a high degree of protection. The main takeaways, other than Cardiff clearly being a highly relevant leader in the sector and a useful touchpoint for the membership, were a need for the constant challenges posed by cyber (and AI), not just in companies but also within their supply chains, to be represented at Excom and main board level.

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Wednesday also saw a packed launch of an exhibition of outstanding art art mainly from Central Asia. Business people and diplomats from across the region attended. BEI’s Central Asian unit combined with D Contemporary and the Britain-Kazakh Society to deliver an evening with real buzz. This followed on from a similar event for Belarus. Showcasing cultural offerings from many of the emerging countries that we deal with will be a growing part of D-Contemporary’s calendar of exhibitions.

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The retiring Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger, discussed the outlook for the UK’s Armed Forces with some 20 business leaders and defence specialists. Alongside an impressive reminder of why, despite a frequent press depiction of a degraded UK defence presence, the UK with its entrenched Transatlantic relationship remains second only to the US in terms of Western defence capability, there were a number of key points for business. The main was a growing commitment to cross-cutting (across the three services) functional authorities to iron out duplications, maximise cost efficiencies and value for the taxpayer.

On Thursday morning BEI, hosted a round table discussion with a visiting team from the World Bank on Enhanced Remedies against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), a very productive and insightful engagement which brought to light some of the innovative thinking around the whole safeguarding agenda, a topic high on the DFID’s priorities. Policy and management mechanisms for GBV and other safeguarding related issues will need broad engagement with many actors, here there is an opportunity for greater collaboration to ensure global standards are established and effectively implanted.

The afternoon brought an honest and candid discussion on DFID’s “No Deal Preparations”, very welcome by BEI members who joined the meeting with Chris Carter, DFID’s Deputy Head of the EU Department. DFID reiterated their commitment to ensure that their ability to deliver essential business in a “value for money and impactful way” is maintained. There are still a lot of uncertainties for suppliers, with financial and operational risks to be managed and mitigated, but the engagement provided some useful insights and information.

The next few weeks sees a very active calendar. It is set out below.

This week also saw the publication of the second edition of our international magazine and podcast, Perspectives.

I wish you all a relaxing weekend.

Regards,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 13th March – The D Group
Lunch with Charles Gibbons
Charles Gibbons, Chief IT Architect & Head of Engineering, The Francis Crick Institute

Thursday 14th March – D Group Lunch
Lunch with the Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport
The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport

Tuesday 19th March – BEI Meeting
ICAI’s Future Work Plan – a Consultation
Tamsyn Barton, ICAI Chief Commissioner

Tuesday 19th March – BEI Meeting
Uzbekistan: Meeting Senior Government Delegation
Laziz Kudratov, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade

Tuesday 19th March – The D Group
Dinner with Barry White, CEO, Transport for the North
Barry White, CEO, Transport for the North

Wednesday 20th March – The D Group
What is AI actually being used for today? – A discussion on real case studies
Adrian Gregory, CEO UK & Ireland, Atos

Thursday 21st March – Strategy International
Networking Reception: Celebrating Nauryz
Strategy International & D-Contemporary – Drinks Reception

Monday 25th March – British Expertise
Turkmenistan: Briefing with British Embassy ahead of TUKTIC

Tuesday 26th March – The D Group
UK-Turkey Relations
H.E Ümit Yalçınn Turkish Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey, London

Tuesday 26th March – BFPG
Sheffield City Region: International Perspectives & Ambitions Post-Brexit
British Foreign Policy Group

Wednesday 27th March – The D Group
Immigration is an economic necessity and we urgently need honest political leadership
James Kirkup, Director, The Social Market Foundation



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st March

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st March

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Dear Members and Friends,

What a glorious sunny week which is hopefully a sign of things to come. The English Cricket Team has had some good results and Brexit rolls on. It has been a comparatively quiet week, but we have had some exciting, thought provoking events:

Tuesday 26 February. Opportunities for UK Plc in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
BEI hosted a UK DIT Trade Team who presented on the opportunities for UK Business in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Whilst challenges to doing business in the region exist, UK plc has some unique capabilities to offer and there are great opportunities with a good return on investment for those companies looking at long term engagement and working with local counterparts with local insights and experience.

Wednesday 27 February. Future Group Interacting with Whitehall
The Future Group was treated to an outstanding session on how Whitehall and Business can work more effectively together to help create greater value for the country. Robert Gardener explained the structure of the Cabinet and how it operates, the 25 Government Departments, the role of Special Advisors and the political, economic and social prism through which all issues are considered. Tushar Prabhu, a Member and CEO of Pell Frischmann then talked us through the issues but looking through the lens of a Chief Executive.

Wednesday 27 February. Presentation of the first Defence Working Group Paper to Doctor Julian Lewis Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee
On Wednesday afternoon Michelle Howard and I went across to the House of Commons to see Dr Julian Lewis MP who Chairs the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. We presented our first Paper from the Defence Working Group; “Planning Ahead: Towards a Resilient British Defence Industry”. The Paper was well received and we will soon be publishing it. Our follow up work will cover:

  • The Prosperity Agenda.

  • Further study of the Cole Commission recommendations on Education.

  • Strengthening the Defence Sales Organisation (DSO)

  • Launching a workshop between industry and DSO staff to identify points of contact for export support.

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Thursday 28 February. Martin Plaut, South Africa
We had an illuminating lunchtime discussion on with Martin Plaut, South African born journalist and author, a former Africa Secretary for the Labour Party and Africa Editor for the BBC World Service, and now Senior Research Fellow at London University's Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London. Martin observed the earlier disadvantages that many African countries faced having had in the post-colonial period few leaders with any business experience. However, he proposed that there is huge potential in Africa. In pursuit of which, he noted the key importance of long-term presence and involvement, whatever the occasional short-term downsides. He argued for a much more engaged approach by HMG Ministers on behalf of UK business in the face of Chinese initiatives across the continent.

Thursday 28 February. Western Balkans Panel Discussion
On Thursday, we were treated to a private-sector panel discussion on a region that we don’t often cover – the Western Balkans. This is an area rich with opportunity, however it receives less government support than some other territories. The discussion moved to how we, our members and HMG can all work together to support British business working in the countries of Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia, to support good governance and deliver much needed infrastructure projects.

Finally, I have just been reminded that there is no rugby this weekend and therefore it leaves plenty of time for other activities. Have a relaxing weekend.

With best wishes,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 5th March – BEI Meeting/MEAG
Middle East Access Group Reception with H.E. Mr Khaled Al Duwaisan GCVO, Kuwaiti Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
H.E. Mr Khaled Al-Duwaisan GCVO, Kuwaiti Ambassador

Wednesday 6th March – D Group Lunch
A.I & Cyber Security
Dr Pete Burnap, Data Science & Cyber Analytics, Cardiff University

Thursday 7th March – BEI Meeting
No Deal Preparations at DFID
Chris Carter, DFID Deputy Head Europe Department and EU Exit Team Leader



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 22nd February

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Dear Members and Friends,

Another unprecedented, but also increasingly typical week of UK politics. No matter what the new Independent Party might mean for Mrs May’s government, it is safe to say that it is another bump in the road to Brexit. The timing of this extraordinary news certainly added an extra dynamic to our events this week, in particular Philip Rycroft’s update on exiting the EU, full details of which follow below. 

A busy week kicked off on Tuesday with a flurry of BEI events. Firstly, H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, British Ambassador to Lebanon shared his economic and political updates on Lebanon, as well as on potential opportunities for UK Business. He pointed to some evidence of Lebanon working to improve the business environment through fiscal reforms, a capital investment plan, power sector restructuring and oil and gas exploration. He referred to the McKinsey report on Lebanon for some additional insights on the state of the economy and doing business.

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We were then joined by Nepal Minister for Finance, Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, for a briefing on opportunities for UK Business in Nepal, where he highlighted some of the sectors of interest for UK companies including Infrastructure, Energy, Tourism, Industry, Transport, ICT and Agriculture. The Honourable Minister also emphasised some of the recent efforts the Nepal government had made in improving some policies, procedures, business practices for doing business. This London visit comes ahead of the upcoming ‘Nepal Investment Summit 2019’ from 29 to 30 March 2019 in Kathmandu. 

Wrapping up a jam packed day, BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted Georgian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Mrs Tamar Beruchashvili where she shared an insightful presentation on why Georgia is an attractive country to invest and do business in. It is a strategic bridge between Europe and Asia, with rapidly developing infrastructure and great human capital. Georgia has an attractive economic narrative and its government is implementing a comprehensive reform agenda which includes a focus on governance and SME reform. Current developments include a flagship project to develop the Anaklia deep sea port and the wider region. Following the presentation, members enjoyed a networking reception with the Ambassador featuring wine from a range of Georgian producers.

On Wednesday night Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, reminded us that any economically thriving city depends on having guaranteed safety and security. In her discussion of ‘Keeping London safe’, she stressed that above all the police are civilians in uniform, and despite inevitable changes in the technology, it is essential that the Met maintains its personal, face-to-face approach to policing. The Met has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last twenty years, with 30% of its 30,000 regular constables now women (a percentage that rises to 50% in specific, higher-level roles) and 30% from BME backgrounds. With the capability and connectivity to open more doors internationally than many other UK public bodies, the Met is one of London’s greatest assets, and is held in the highest regard around the world.

We concluded the week last night when we welcomed Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary for Exiting the European Union, back to the D Group almost 12 months to the day since his last visit. He gave us a tour de force of where we are, the 320 Policy Domains that have to be addressed, what is being stockpiled by the Government and various other high-level activities. We are now at the end of the beginning and Phase 2 (post 29 March) is now being thought through. We will have to renegotiate our position with the European Union and life will be very different as a third country. We will also need to learn a whole new skill set to influence the EU from without the EU, in addition to renegotiating our trade relationships around the World. Philip said that when he assumed his appointment his department had 40 staff: now it has over 750.

Here’s wishing you all a peaceful half-term weekend and we look forward to seeing you soon.

With best wishes,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 26th February – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK Plc in Eastern Europe
DIT Eastern Europe and Central Asia representatives

Wednesday 27th February – BEI Meeting
Roundtable with Martyn Warr OBE, Consul General to Kurdistan
Martyn Warr OBE, Consul General to Kurdistan

Wednesday 6th March – D Group Lunch
A.I & Cyber Security
Dr Pete Burnap, Data Science & Cyber Analytics, Cardiff University

British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 15th February

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In a break from recent tradition a relatively quiet week on the Brexit front. I suspect merely the calm before the storm and with 43 days to go it won’t be long before the clouds start gathering again over Westminster. Whatever the shape of the deal on the 29th March, the reoccurring and ultimately encouraging theme from our events this week was that innovation, be that electric vehicles or the digital economy, could be the key to guiding UK Plc through an unknown future.

On Tuesday we heard from Andrew Burgess, Deputy Director for Energy System Transition at Ofgem. Andrew addressed a range of themes, in particular the extensive work being done through the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan to make sure the regulatory environment and consequently power networks are fit for purpose to meet the exponential demand and supply risks of electric vehicles. A true tour de force of the many challenges and opportunities arising from this burgeoning sector and a fascinating insight into the future of the energy market.

On Wednesday afternoon, BEI was delighted to host the newly appointed ICAI Chief Commissioner, Tamsyn Barton and Review Team Leader Paul Harvey as they presented their finding on the ICAI review on the UK’s approach to funding the UN humanitarian system looking at relevance, efficiency and effectiveness. With a more than 200% increase in demand for assistance since 2011, the review found that DFID has successfully used its funding and influence to strengthen UN humanitarian agencies but needs to do more to deliver on its commitments to ensure effective accountability to affected populations and to stream line its own reporting requirements. Some recommendations were put forward to DFID and the response from government was received a few days ago.

On Wednesday evening we also had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK. Innovate UK is an industrial strategy fund providing financial assistance and connecting together the best of the UK’s R&D and Infrastructure organisations. During the evening Ian shared with us the 4 Global Challenges that Innovate UK see as critical to address within the next few years: Artificial Intelligence and Data, an Ageing Society, Clean Growth and Future Mobility. In order to tackle these challenges, cross-sector engagement is needed more than ever. Bringing business, government and organisations across the country together will be crucial if we are to make a real difference to the nation’s future quality of life.

An interesting and topical programme of events next week. On Tuesday afternoon we welcome the Georgian Ambassador to the UK, HE Tamar Beruchashvili who will be briefing us on commercial opportunities for UK companies in Georgia. On Wednesday we will hear from Met Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick CBE, on “Keeping London Safe” and on Thursday Philip Rycroft CB, Permanent Secretary to DExEU, will be updating us on where we stand with just a over a month to go!

With the first signs of spring in the air and a rest week in the Six Nations, I’m off to tend to the roses. Hope to see you at one of our events soon.

Have a good weekend,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 19th February – BEI Meeting
Meeting with H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, HM’s Ambassador to Lebanon
H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, HM’s Ambassador to Lebanon

Tuesday 19th February – BEI Meeting
Meet the Georgian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
H.E. Tamar Beruchashvili, Georgian Ambassador to the United Kingdom

Wednesday 20th February – D Group Dinner
Keeping London safe
Commissioner Cressida Dick CBE QPM, Metropolitan Police


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 8th February

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Dear Members and Friends,

We have had an exceptionally busy and stimulating week in Strategy International with some outstanding high quality speakers. As a backdrop Brexit rolls on but I do detect an urgency that has not always been apparent.

Monday 4 February – The Honourable Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Minister took us back in History prior to the First World War when the Northern Powerhouse was the economic Centre of Gravity of the Empire. Two World Wars had seen more and more centralisation of power in Westminster and this was now being unwound. Four years ago George Osbourne reinvented the term ‘the Northern Powerhouse’, and over that period we have seen the introduction of Metro Mayors and devolution across the North. Manchester is now one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and there has been a 200% increase in exports between Manchester and Beijing over the last couple of years. In the last year alone the D Group has held lunches in Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool and there are great business opportunities across many Sectors. The Government has also realised the education attainment disparity between the North and the South and an extra £70 million is being invested in Northern Schools.

Tuesday 5 February – HM Trade Commissioner for China, Richard Burn.

Richard Burn has lived and worked in China for many years both in the private and public sector. He has now been the Trade Commissioner for a year and has a Team of 200 staff, spread across five Consulates, who are there to get market access across all Sectors for British Companies. 2017 saw a 28% growth in British Business with China but this has not been sustained in 2018. Percentages have held up but in the first 9 months of 2018 there was only 1% growth. The UK/China Golden Era that was started by David Cameron and President Xi is now firmly in its second stage but talks that were meant to have taken place last November have been delayed due to a couple of high level issues that are being worked through.

Tuesday 5th February – Meet the Ambassador: HE Mr Robin Ord-Smith MVO, HMA Kyrgyzstan

On Tuesday afternoon, BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted an event with the British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, HE Mr Robin Ord-Smith MVO, ahead of the cross-sector trade mission we are running there in March. Kyrgyzstan offers many business and investment opportunities for UK plc – especially in extractives, education, agribusiness and tourism. While there has been some political uncertainty there in recent years, the British Embassy remains poised to support UK companies in their business development efforts and is often instrumental in ensuring success. The Ambassador highlighted the importance of strong stakeholder networks and personal connections when doing work in the region. To find out more about the upcoming mission, please click here or get in touch with Alexandra.

Thursday 7th February – Richard Harrington MP, Permanent Under Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Unlike many MPs, the Permanent Under Secretary has worked in Business for over 24 years and this experience shone through in his talk. He explained the role of his Department and how disruptive technology such as Artificial Intelligence was transforming UK business. There was also agreement from all those present that Brexit is currently overshadowing every part of business and what was needed was as frictionless a transition as possible. Looking beyond the current intense political activity a key theme was the need for the UK to up its game converting many more of it’s outstanding younger, high-growth companies, including the many coming out of the UK’s leading University research base, into successful commercial enterprise. The Minister agreed to see several of our Members, which is a great example of what Strategy International aims to achieve in furthering dialogue between the public and the private sector.

Have a great weekend and we look forward to seeing many of you next week.

With best wishes Seumas.

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 12th February – D Group Lunch
Electric Vehicles – Current developments and future initiatives
Andrew Burgess, Deputy Director, Energy System Transition, Ofgem

Wednesday 13th February – BEI Meeting
UK's approach to funding the UN humanitarian system
Dr Tamsyn Barton, ICAI Chief Commissioner

Wednesday 13th February – D Group Dinner
How UK business can encourage innovation
Dr Ian W Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st February

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 1st February

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Dear Members & Friends,

A week full of fascinating events, growth in the membership and the launch of some new international content - Strategy International’s ‘Perspectives’ platform.

The Brexit soap opera continues, although perhaps Tuesday evening’s votes have, at last, pointed the way to a (slim) majority parliamentary position; that of the deal agreed with the EU, but sans/ohne backstop. We may be approaching the end game. One of a particularly absorbing but high stakes game of chicken.

EVENTS. This week/Next week.

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D Group delivered three absorbing events during the week.

The Japan/UK relationship is assuming increasing importance, despite Brexit. On the debit side there is a Japanese business community in the UK deeply concerned about the uncertainties posed by Brexit. The Japanese response to the UK’s decision to leave the EU, led by their supremely able ambassador and trade expert, HE Koji Tsuruoka and supported by a highly coordinated leadership group of Japanese businesses has been a case study in how business and government should work together. On the credit side is a closening security and cooperation relationship between the two countries with clear potentials for Trade. Ambassador Tsuruoka led a valuable discussion covering Trade, Defence and Aid.

On a security theme, ex Mi6 Chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, surveyed the challenges to World security in general and the UK in particular. China and Russia loomed large, as did trenchant concerns about certain forms of EU exit for the UK. A high-level discussion of these can be found in the Perspective’s podcast. Listen to the podcast →

GE’s Rob Evans took us away from geo-politics and the ‘B’ word and into the very real challenges to business of the Internet of Things. Rob reviewed how just about every sector is becoming transformed by the digital revolution, and Asset Performance Management (APM) systems are becoming ever more widely used. As suppliers increasingly transition to the “power by the hour” model, efficient asset life tracking is becoming essential and the introduction of fully autonomous ‘dark factories’ may be on the horizon.

Next week we welcome, in sequence, the Northern Powerhouse minister, the Beijing based UK Trade Commissioner to China, our ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and welcome back the Secretary of State for BEIS. The latter, Greg Clark, speaks to a title agreed months ago but now positively heaving with expectation-“What next for British business?”.

NEW MEMBERS.

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These are tough times for companies to commit to adding to variable costs and so the arrival of new members is even more noteworthy an event than usual. D Group was delighted to welcome the major energy company SSE and British Expertise welcomed the great name of Pearson plc and ABT, who work to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide.

NEW CONTENT.

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Strategy has an active international footprint. In addition to a wide range of British Expertise and D Group briefings on international themes and markets we engage with and support the efforts of HMG’s FCO, DiT and Dfid departments and we have our own representatives around the world. Not to mention two other overseas D Groups. We interact frequently with missions here in London from multiple nations. We have now launched a pilot edition of ‘Perspectives’, a platform which hopefully adds to our networks’ insights into a range of topical matters. You can access it here →

Regards,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 5th February – D Group / BEI Lunch
China – the view on the key opportunities and challenges for British business in 2019
Richard Burn, HM Trade Commissioner for China, Department for International Trade

Tuesday 5th February – CATBIG Meeting
Meet the British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic
H.E. Mr Robin Ord-Smith MVO, British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic

Tuesday 12th February – D Group Lunch
Electric Vehicles – Current developments and future initiatives
Jonathan Brearley, Executive Director, Ofgem



Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 25th January

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 25th January

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Members & Friends,

As we conclude another week in politics, I’m afraid I remain confused on how Brexit will be achieved and therefore have decided to ignore it entirely and focus on our in-house activity.

The week kicked off when Justine Greening MP joined us and tackled the difficult topic ‘How Reform of HM Treasury Can Unlock Britain’s Potential’. She gave an inspirational talk on Human Capital, barely utilised and possibly resulting in fewer of us feeling that we have a ‘real’ stake in Britain. There was an interesting discussion on the long-term viability of whether or not it was sustainable for public finances to be run over a 5-year period or longer. We have in front of us a monumental opportunity to run our public finances differently and no country has yet cracked effective social mobility. If the UK could achieve this first, it would create a real opportunity for us.

Accessibility to higher education as a way of maximising social mobility is a particular interest of Justine’s and she also shared innovative university and student funding ideas which were being prepared before she left the Department for Education. These sought to both maintain the fee structure paid by HMG to the universities whilst replacing the current form of student education and maintenance loans with a non-regressive, post- graduation payment programme. These ideas were actively advanced by Justine later in the week and picked up across the national press.

Tuesday was the highlight of my week, judging the vast number of entries to the British Expertise International Awards 2019 (#BEIAwards19). A challenging afternoon of debate chaired by our President, HRH The Duke of Gloucester has, I’m delighted to announce, produced a shortlist of projects and achievements that UK PLC should be very proud of. Specific company and project details can be found in the BEI newsletter.

View the 2019 Awards shortlist →

Whether you have entered the competition or are waiting for next year, the Awards Dinner showcases the best of the British professional services sector and is an excellent networking event. This year His Royal Highness and I will be joined by Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of Trade and Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade to present the winners their awards in the company of members and guests from around the world. Booking is open so please do join us.

Concluding the week on Thursday, the D Group lunch focused on Russia. The speaker, MD of CrossBorder Capital Michael Howell, shared his views on why the Russian economy has been doing rather well in recent years, all things considered. Higher oil and gas rates, large-scale exporting of military goods and a surplus agriculture production were all named as factors in Russia’s current resilience. Michael drew comparisons with the situation in the Soviet Union in the years before its collapse, as well as modern China – where a basic economy producing capital goods works but can run into problems where it begins diversifying into consumer goods.

Have a wonderful weekend all, we hope to see you soon and look forward to hearing your news.

With best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 29th January – BEI Meeting
How to Design Better Development Programmes in Complex Systems
Andrew Koleros, Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Palladium
Mark Oldenbeuving, Senior Expert, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Integrity

Wednesday 30th January – D Group Lunch
IoT disrupting the way industries are delivering their product & services
Rob Evans, Director Ecosystems and Channels, GE Digital

Monday 4th February – D Group Lunch
Is the Norther Powerhouse needed more than ever?
Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Norther Powerhouse and Local Growth, Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th January

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 18th January

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Members and friends,

Nearly two and a half years ago I invited Markus Kerber, the then head of the BDI, the German CBI equivalent, to come over, meet our members and tell them what he saw as the way forward. Justin Webb came to our office to interview him for the BBC ‘Today’ programme. His prescient advice as someone who represented the might of German industry but who had worked many years in The City? The 27 would not be divided, special “bespoke” deals were not going to be on offer and the UK had to realise it was completely out, start with a clean sheet and look to what would be plentiful Teutonic pragmatism, goodwill and mutual interest to build a new relationship before the exit date that would ensure minimal disruption to trade for all. One can only reflect on where we’d be now if the UK had gripped that common-sense reality as the starting point and HMG and business sector representatives had not drawn early battle lines and instead worked much more effectively together, sector by sector, to assess and address the major issues.

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Meanwhile, back in the real world, much is going on and will continue to go on regardless of Brexit. An excellent event held by the UK-Vietnam network at the House of Lords, at 7pm right in the middle of ‘the meaningful vote’, reflected what we hear time and time again from missions in London; that there is a long and valued relationship with the UK and, regardless of Brexit, massive trading opportunity across a range of sectors. Vietnam specifically has a population of 100 million, repeated 6% + growth, an excellent Ambassador and opportunities in infrastructure, education, business services. Strategy and its members will visit later this year.

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Also, at the same time as the Commons were busy on the ‘meaningful vote’, Strategy International hosted the impressive DFID Permanent Secretary, Matthew Rycroft, for a very engaged discussion around how, with the 0.7% supported across the political spectrum, the UK can maintain its position as a development aid “super power” beyond Brexit. There was active debate on how to deploy funds with the primary aim of reducing poverty but also to see them work in the national interest. As part of this, DFID are looking to enhance engagement with the private sector, both via its own, direct channeling of ODA funds but also increasing cross-government ODA spend. This desirable objective is, however, up against what participants felt were increasing costs of doing business with DFID. There is no quibble with the need for transparency, to deliver value for money and be accountable to the highest standards but the commercial relationship has to be a sustainable one.

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On Wednesday RUSI’s Director General, Dr Karin von Hippel, took us away from the Westminster parallel universe to that of ‘The Donald’; one where a wall may not be a wall and where American taxpayers find that they are in fact the ‘Mexicans’ who will pay for it (once government re-opens for business). One can’t deny the apparent short-term effectiveness of some of his strident positions but at what level of erosion of the US’s influence? The main issue is one of leadership style. If it’s repeatedly obvious in any hierarchy that only the boss’s opinion matters and criticism, however constructive, is repeatedly and publicly rejected then it descends into conformist group-think that does nothing until he decides.

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HM’s Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith visited on Thursday and led a candid and constructive discussion on how HMG engagement in Africa is evolving. This covered the challenges and opportunities UK businesses face doing business in different countries and practical ideas for improving and fine tuning the support businesses receive from the UK government. Particular areas of specific follow up? More coordinated UK engagement in East Africa and integrating the important role of CDC more effectively within wider HMG engagement in the region. The upcoming UK-Africa Investment summit previously announced by the Prime Minister was also flagged as a great opportunity for members to engage early to shape a key initiative for the UK and Africa in 2019.

We look forward to a great programme for the rest of January, the remaining events being listed below.

Wishing you all an enjoyable and Brexit-free weekend.

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Monday 21st January – D Group Lunch
Human Capital: How reform of HM Treasury can unlock Britain’s potential
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Member of Parliament for Putney

Thursday 24th January – D Group Lunch
Why is Russia doing so well?
Michael Howell, Managing Director, CrossBorder Capital

Monday 28th January – D Group Lunch
UK-Japanese co-operation; Trade, Defence, Aid
H.E. Koji Tsuruoka, Ambassador of Japan to the UK

Tuesday 29th January – BEI Meeting
How to Design Better Development Programmes in Complex Systems
Andrew Koleros, Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Palladium
Mark Oldenbeuving, Senior Expert, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Integrity

Tuesday 29th January – D Group Dinner
A new international order. How profound is the change?
Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE, Former Chief of MI6

Wednesday 30th January – D Group Lunch
IoT disrupting the way industries are delivering their product & services
Rob Evans, Director Ecosystems and Channels, GE Digital


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019
Submission deadline extended to 1st January 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 11th January

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 11th January

A very Happy New Year to everyone!

As the world emerges from its seasonal slumber, though some of us have been back a week already, we return rested, re-energised and ready to put into practice those lofty New Year’s resolutions we swore to uphold two weeks ago. The resolutions may well fall by the wayside, along with your “Dry January” or new gym membership, but what should remain constant for us all is the ambition to seek out new opportunities for growth and prosperity in 2019. Those opportunities may well be harder to spot and even trickier to close, but with the right insights, and connections to the key decision makers we hope we can help all of our members shorten those odds to success.

With our events programme not swinging in to top gear until next week, I thought this would be a good time to draw your attention to some of the other activities we have coming up over the next few months.

Firstly, we invite you to join us next Wednesday, 16th January, for the Private View of the next exhibition in D Contemporary’s calendar, 'step BY step', featuring a showcase of contemporary artworks by artists from Belarus. Please click here to view the exhibition catalogue, and RSVP here to attend.

In March we are running a cross-sector trade mission to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan (11-13 March 2019). Kyrgyzstan is an early transition country with significant investment needs in professional services, information technology, renewable energy, education, infrastructure, tourism, mining and agri-business sectors. All meetings will be targeted and relevant to the delegation. Our last trade mission there, in February 2018, featured meetings at the Ministry for Economy; Ministry of Education and Science; State Committee of Industry and Subsoil Use; State Agency for Architecture, Housing, and Communal Services; Agency on Banks Reorganisation and Debt Restructuring; and Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism. Please find the flyer here and for more information please contact Alexandra.

Finally, our biggest event of the year, the annual British Expertise International Awards. In just 10 weeks we showcase the Best of British Infrastructure at this year’s ceremony on the 17th April. Celebrating over 21 years of British excellence in global infrastructure, the Awards provide a one of a kind platform convening government and the private sector as we come together and move forward in a post-Brexit Britain. This year, the ceremony takes place just three weeks after the UK may leave the EU and is the perfect time for HMG and the private sector to come together and affirm their partnership in exporting the best of the UK’s professional services and engineering skills.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our partners for their outstanding contribution to this year’s Awards. The calibre of the entries has been unprecedented and we cannot wait to showcase your outstanding work.

Have a good weekend,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Monday 21st January – D Group Lunch
Human Capital: How reform of HM Treasury can unlock Britain’s potential
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Member of Parliament for Putney

Thursday 24th January – D Group Lunch
Why is Russia doing so well?
Michael Howell, Managing Director, CrossBorder Capital

Monday 28th January – D Group Lunch
UK-Japanese co-operation; Trade, Defence, Aid
HE Koji Tsuruoka, Ambassador of Japan

Tuesday 29th January – BEI Meeting
How to Design Better Development Programmes in Complex Systems
Andrew Koleros, Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at Palladium
Mark Oldenbeuving, Senior Expert, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning at Integrity


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 14th December

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 14th December

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Dear Members and Friends,

I am writing this letter on a crisp, sunny Friday morning after an exciting, stimulating, highly entertaining Christmas Party. It was good to see so many of you present. Jeremy Cape of Squire Patton Boggs produced another stellar performance on the piano and I was unaware how well our Members can sing! I have now completed nearly a year as the MD of the D Group and as I look back, I reflect on a hugely enjoyable year that has been demanding, yet fun. I would like to thank all our Members for their support and I am optimistic as we look forward to 2019. This is notwithstanding our current political situation. This has been another busy week in Strategy International with the following activities taking place:

Tuesday 11 December BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG)
BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted a traditional end-of-year Christmas reception with a Tourism briefing. Guests included representatives from the Embassies of Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We were treated to presentations from a range of experienced travel industry specialists. George Smith, Marta Mills, Marat Akhmedjanov, Nathan Rumgay and Sergey Gritsenko shared their thoughts on the development of the tourism sector in the region covered by CATBIG and offered practical travel advice. The region lends itself very well to exclusive and customised holidays, and we were reminded that Eco-tourism is not only about conserving nature and wildlife but must make a positive impact on both the Ecology and Economy of a given destination.

Wednesday 12 December Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce
BEI hosted a visiting delegation from the Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce led by Mr Dara Al-Khayat, Chairman of the Kurdistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and H.E. Karwan Jamal Tahir, KRG UK High Representative. With better relations between the Iraqi government and KRG which has also led to improved safety and security, the delegation felt that UK Business should look at the many opportunities available in a wide range of sectors including education, agribusiness and tourism.

Wednesday 12 December Hash Tag Me Too. Where do we go from here?
Caroline Noblet who is the Company Global Head of Labour and Employment for Squire Patton Boggs gave an outstanding presentation on Sexual Harassment and the Hash Tag Me Too phenomenon. She deftly steered us through the moral maze of the modern day work place and what is and is not acceptable behaviour. As Companies we should all have in place our Sexual Harassment Policies and understand the difference between Clumsy, Creepy and Criminal behaviour. We also had a very interesting debate on the use of NDAs.

Wednesday 12 December Reception for His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.
The highlight of the diplomatic year in London, the reception for His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan’s birthday, took place on Wednesday. The Japanese embassy in London is a much valued member of The D Group. There was an added frisson to the packed evening as it coincided with a certain vote of confidence in the Palace of Westminster but the B word did not creep into the evening. Instead there was much focus on an enduring UK/ Japan relationship and growing ties between our respective defence and security expertise. That, plus a short speech from Eddie Jones confirming that England will be in the Rugby World Cup Final at 6pm, November 2, the Nissan stadium, Yokohama (with such inspiring confidence & clarity can he be lent to the B negotiations?).

I suspect that many of us have a very busy year ahead of us next year but for those that are breaking for Christmas, Happy Christmas.

With warmest regards,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 18th December – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK business in Myanmar (Burma)
Douglas Barnes, DIT Director

Wednesday 16th January – D Group Lunch
Implications of the US mid-term elections on the Trump Administration’s Foreign Policy
Dr Karin Von Hippel, Director-General, RUSI

Thursday 17th January – BEI Meeting
Africa Business Today and Tomorrow: Reality, Opportunities and Potential
Emma Wade Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 7th December

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 7th December

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Dear Members & Friends,

Another week of punch-drunk lurching from one Brexit scenario to another. At least there are lots of D Group ties prognosticating from the Commons and floating around the TV studios. (Hopefully lots of ‘D’ pins on our female speakers and members but you need a pause button and a very large screen to spot them).

For what’s it worth I’m chalking up the following odds;
‘Norway’. Evens
No deal. 2-1
Second referendum. 3-1
The current deal. 4-1

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A quick compendium of the week.

BFPG - our associated research group launched a thoughtful piece on the UK’s engagement with Latin America. It was great to see DiT’s impressive new Trade Commissioner, Jo Crellin, contributing to put the case for more active UK ‘inc’ attention to the region.

More regional reviews next year…

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D Group continued its Blockchain series. Toby Lewis of Novum Insights gave a very engaged audience a thought-provoking assessment of where blockchain is likely to make a major effect on business and where it’s over-hyped. It is clear that the sheer breadth of technological change hitting business means blockchain’s is not getting the degree of full-on, proactive attention that it merits.

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BEI supported DAI in hosting two private sector consultation meetings, one in Manchester and one in London, on behalf of DFID’s Trade for Development. The events focused on understanding the key constraints faced by UK based businesses sourcing and buying from developing countries. A report is expected to be shared at the end of the first quarter in 2019.

On Wednesday BEI welcomed Judith Tyson, Research Fellow at Overseas Development Institute (ODI) as she presented on “Private infrastructure finance in developing countries: five challenges, five solutions”. With limited traction on the “Billions to Trillions” in the infrastructure sector, many agreed that; more bankable projects, the need for greater innovation and risk mitigation were key to any further progress.

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BEI’s Central Asian effort goes from strength to strength and we attended the impressive launch for the new Astana International Finance Centre (AIFC). AIFC is a bold initiative to place a major financial centre in this key Central Asian economy, based on UK law overseen by ex-Chief Justice, Lord Woolfe and following best international practice. As we wade through the Brexit-induced gloom about the UK’s stature in the World, this was a timely reminder that its ‘soft power’ strengths (language, law, standards & practices) are keenly sought after in order to attract sustainable international investment and engagement.

Next week see the annual Strategy International reception and we look forward to welcoming friends and members to close out this challenging year, enjoy and renew friendships and look to a great 2019.

Best wishes,

Peter

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 12th December – D Group Dinner
#MeToo – Where do we go from here?
Caroline Noblet, Co-Global Head of Labour and Employment, Squire Patton Boggs (UK)

Tuesday 18th December – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK Business in Myanmar (Burma)
Douglas Barnes, Director Burma, Department for International Trade


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019
Submission deadline extended to 1st January 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 30th November

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 30th November

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Dear Members and friends,

Even the alarming situation off the coast of Ukraine this week has failed to distract from the Brexit Deal or No Deal dilemma. In hindsight, perhaps picking a result from 15 randomly selected boxes would have been a more productive and, dare I say, a more democratic process! Nevertheless, an air of resignation looms over the outcome of the vote on 11th December which does raise the worrying question of “What do we do next?”. All this uncertainty aside, Strategy International continues to peer over the Brexit fence at the opportunities for UK plc beyond, and here are some of the key takeaways from this week’s programme of events.

On Monday, BEI and BCLP hosted a very informative engagement with a team from the Asian Development Bank. The seminar included an overview of the ADB’s new Strategy 2030, updates on procurement processes and sector specific updates including some pipeline opportunities. Of great interest was the ADB’s scale-up on private sector operations. BEI will be arranging a Mission to ADB Manila in March 2019 for the Business Opportunities Fair and details will follow. Please do register your interest to join the Mission.

On Tuesday we welcomed Ian Stewart, Chief Economist, Deloitte for dinner to discuss whether robots will destroy jobs and increase inequality. A pertinent topic, Ian's remarks were eloquent and based on his experiences working with mass data. Parallels were drawn from times in history where technology has forced a substantive change in the job market. Clearly, the rising tide of automation will affect our future job market and education will play a vital role in preparing us for this, a responsibility that should be shared by all. The debate around the table was stimulating and gave all food for thought on how business may be shaped in the future.

On Wednesday night, a diverse group of companies come together to listen to the CEO of UK Major Ports Group, Tim Morris, share his views on how the UK’s ports can thrive in the future. We discussed a wide range of issues: how to increase capacity, the pros and cons of automation, innovation, road and rail freight development, environmental policy, attracting the right level of human resources. Of course, the dreaded B-word came up a few times too – but the general feeling around the table was not of doom and gloom, but rather of cautious optimism. Ports are real catalysts for job creation, benefitting coastal communities and supporting the economy by bringing in FDI. By staying agile, competitive and entrepreneurial, Britain’s ports can continue to thrive in the years to come.

Even though the festive season is approaching faster than Usain Bolt in a Santa’s outfit, our events schedule shows no sign of letting up. To help you avoid any December double booking, below are the event highlights for the month ahead.

Hope you all have a good weekend and get a chance to relax before the start of the pre-holiday rush.

Best regards,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Wednesday 5th December – BEI Meeting
Private Infrastructure Finance in Developing Countries: five challenges – five solutions
Judith Tyson, Research Fellow, ODI

Wednesday 5th December – D Group Lunch
Blockchain 2018 – The Year in Review. And 2019, The Year Ahead…
Toby Lewis, Founder and CEO, Novum Insights

Thursday 6th December – BEI Meeting
IMPORTS FOR PROSPERITY – UK Business Consultation Event (London)

Wednesday 12th December – D Group Dinner
#MeToo – Where do we go from here?
Caroline Noblet, Co-Global Head of Labour and Employment, Squire Patton Boggs (UK)

Tuesday 18th December – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK Business in Myanmar (Burma)
Douglas Barnes, Director Burma, Department for International Trade


British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019
Submission deadline extended to 1st January 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 23rd November

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 23rd November

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Dear Members and Friends,

Another interesting week in Brexit Britain. The PM returned from Brussels with a deal on the table, and it seems that even though there is a great deal of grumbling from both leavers and remainders, there is little time for alternatives without triggering a “no-deal” Brexit – or is there? As we wait for more developments, the truth is the public are fed up and just want to get on with it, as the PM said, “the British people want this settled.”

The streets of London have been busier than usual this week, with the ever-increasing festive season shoppers and the thousands of protesters drawing attention to the unfolding climate emergency. The protestors planned a campaign of peaceful mass civil disobedience apparently with support from almost 100 senior academics from across the UK, including the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Whilst there have been delays in commutes, it’s business as usual.

UK cross-government funds play a vital role in promoting economic development as well as projecting UK influence. On Tuesday BEI hosted Joint Funds Unit Director Joelle Jenny and Head of Prosperity Fund, Daniel Davis, as they shared the work and delivery of UK cross-government funds and how UK-plc can more effectively engage. It appears post-Brexit many more UK government departments will look to accessing ODA funding for a wide range of programmes and many of our members are well placed to explore these opportunities.

On Wednesday, D Group members were treated to an energising discussion with Digital Catapult CEO, Jeremy Silver on the topical subject, “Internet of Things (IoT)”. The discussion covered how early adoption of IoT technology by UK plc can help position organisations ahead of the curve. IoT has wide-ranging applications, and while we may be more familiar with connected consumer devices, the technology is now also being applied to a variety of industrial operations. Whilst many companies tend to be risk averse when it comes to adopting new tech, the potential of IoT technology is such that organisations can benefit greatly by making it part of their long-term vision and changing organisational culture.

ICAI Commissioner Tina Fahm and ICAI Review Team Leader Ian McPherson on Thursday shared details of the review on ‘Achieving value for money through procurement Part 2: DFID’s approach to value for money through tendering and contract management’. Whilst acknowledging DFID’s improvement in their overall approach to procurement, it came as no surprise to members that there were some major concerns highlighted on DFID’s engagement with its stakeholders. A clear need to improve consultation processes with market suppliers, along with a better system of manging information systems and adopting appropriate contract management techniques were identified.

Next week’s event highlights include: the ADB Business Opportunities Seminar on Monday next week co-hosted by BEI and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP). On Tuesday, Ian Stewart, a Partner and Chief Economist at Deloitte will join the D Group for what should be a thought-provoking topic, “Will robots destroy jobs and increase inequality?” and finally on Wednesday Tim Morris, Chief Executive Officer, UK Major Ports Group will share his view on “How Britain's Ports can thrive in the future”

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,

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Derrick Sanyahumbi, Director, Government - Prosperity and International Development


Event highlights:

Tuesday 27th November – D Group Dinner
Will robots destroy jobs and increase inequality?
Ian Stewart, Chief UK Economist, Deloitte

Tuesday 4th December – D Group Lunch
Immigration is an economic necessity and we urgently need honest political leadership
James Kirkup, Director, The Social Market Foundation

Wednesday 5th December - BEI Meeting
Infrastructure Finance – Challenges and Solutions
Judith Tyson, Research Fellow, ODI

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019
Submission deadline extended to 1st January 2019

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 16th November

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 16th November

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Dear Members and friends,

As I write, those in this group who have not resigned are mulling over a five hundred page document which, according to your point of view, either, at last, breaks the endless circle of hell we’ve been living in with a workable compromise that pragmatically faces up to realities, delivering on most of the ‘leave’ requirements, or is an unacceptable fudge which places a fig leaf over vassalage to the EU and a failure to honour the biggest democratic vote in the UK’s history. We now move into three weeks of parliamentary manoeuvring. And, in any case, this is just a blueprint for the future UK/EU relationship. The trade deal has to be negotiated before any claims of ‘frictionless trade’ can be made.

We will schedule a meaty early January event on what no-deal or any deal that gets through Parliament means, in detail, for members’ concerns around supply chains, immigration, tax and contracts.

It was not a huge surprise that (the now former) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey cancelled her Thursday session with us.

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The redoubtable and hugely informed BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, visited Grafton St on Tuesday to speak to British Expertise International’s Middle East group. Frank was paralysed after being repeatedly shot in 2004 by a terrorist in Saudi Arabia and his resolution to not just continue his journalistic career but to take it to considerable heights is an achievement he wears very modestly. Frank shared his thoughts and in-depth knowledge of many of the geopolitical issues that facing the Middle East, including how damaging the Jamal Khashoggi affair may have been to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and MBS himself, the conflicts in Yemen and Syria – resolution and prospects for peace, Qatar’s position in the GCC, the US – Iran future relationship and much more. We very rarely hear such clear and candid analysis.

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This week our first Future Group Cohort in its current format completed its final module at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The main exercise saw the cohort, acting as a Board, being put through its paces in a business setting. They had to consider the impact of their decisions on Company Reputation, Share Value, Winning New Business, Morale, Retention of staff… the list goes on. There were some very broad discussions, and the cohort of 2018 really bonded and were an excellent team. We wish them all the best and success in their future careers.

No sooner had this Course finished, we found ourselves welcoming the next Course that started yesterday! This unique, cross-sector programme for those designated by their CEOs as future potential top leaders now moves from its pilot stage to its first two cohorts of ten participants. Alongside a challenging ten-month programme which deepens key skills and forges lifelong bonds, it is good to see Civil Service fast-trackers participating.

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Melanie Robinson, UK Executive Director to the World Bank was guest of honour at a BEI lunch this week. Melanie spoke frankly to members and guests about the focus, investment in human capital, and building resilience in some of the poorest nations of the world, via the largest IFI in the world. With a budget of $75BN this year, heading to $100BN in the near future the World Bank is a key provider of finance for meeting the SDGs adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015.

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Next week we have excellent events on the Internet of Things and on HMG explaining its cross- government approach to the deployment of the Prosperity fund.

Have a good weekend.

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 21st November – D Group Lunch
Putting the I into IOT, opportunities for industry through early adoption
Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, The Digital Catapult

Thursday 22nd November –BEI Meeting
ICAI – Achieving value for money through procurement Part 2
Tina Fahm, ICAI Commissioner

Wednesday 28th November – D Group Dinner
How Britain’s Ports can thrive in the future
Tim Morris, Chief Executive Officer, UK Major Ports Group

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 9th November

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 9th November

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Dear Members and friends,

What a glorious week this has been. The Home Rugby Internationals have started in earnest and some of the team at 23 Grafton St. have been seen waxing their skis. The D Group bees are hibernating, but we have enough honey to last the Winter. I have also been to two memorable events to commemorate the end of the Great War. The first was Beyond the Deepening Shadow at the Tower of London. The ceremony and thousands of individual flames in the moat to mark the fallen were very moving and made one realise how much a generation had given up to secure our freedom. The second was the Opening Ceremony of the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. There were thousands of serving and old soldiers present and Prince Harry spoke to as many people has he could. Standing there to attention in the silence, the thought crossed my mind that we as a country have moved from a culture of service to a culture of me. This can not be good for a Nation.

Monday 5 November, Nigerian Ambassador.
On Monday, British Expertise International hosted H.E. Catriona Laing CB, High Commissioner-Designate to Nigeria for a Roundtable Discussion. Catriona will take up her new role in the coming weeks and welcomed advice and experiences of doing business in Nigeria from both British and Nigerian business representatives present at the meeting. With a wide range of opportunities for UK plc, it was suggested that perhaps the UK Government engagement should shift focus from national to regional level. Quality and credible education and skills development to promote entrepreneurship were identified as key areas to enhance Nigeria’s long term economic development aspirations.

Tuesday 6 November, Sudan Ambassador.
British Expertise International was delighted to welcome H.E. Irfan Siddiq OBE, UK Ambassador to Sudan on Tuesday as he presented a most informed and honest update on the current socio-economic and political landscape in Sudan. A key take away from the meeting was that whilst Sudan presented a range of opportunities for UK plc, the environment is currently not conducive to investing but UK plc should start positioning themselves and be ready when the time is right.

Tuesday 6 November, Lord David Willetts, The Resolution Foundation.
Lord Willetts spoke on education and the rising questions of intergenerational fairness. There was a very wide-ranging debate covering the salaries of 30-year olds that are on average earning less than they would have been 10-15 years ago. We also discussed the horizontal and vertical family, with a reliance on grandparents looking after grandchildren and the big issue of affordable housing. Education is key to the success of the United Kingdom. We now live in a country that has never been as connected electronically, however nor as socially divided.

Wednesday 7 November, Transforming Business Models with Blockchain. Andrew Wheen, Principal Communications Consultant, Mott Macdonald.
Andrew was on excellent form and made a complex subject simple. As we all know, Blockchain has been around for 10 years and is now creating real opportunities for Companies that are prepared to implement it. There are three key characteristics: multi-party collaboration, a shared database and a trusted intermediary. Applications are advancing on a daily basis, and there was a stimulating debate covering both the upsides and downsides. We have another event on the 5 December when Hayden Jones, Founder and Managing Director of Blockchain Hub, will be reviewing the most important Blockchain developments over the course of 2018 as well as horizon scanning the potential step changes in the technology for 2019 and beyond. Please visit our website to book your place and avoid missing out on what should be a fascinating and thought-provoking event.

Thursday 8 November, Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business.
Brexit uncertainty calls out for clear leadership that can find the positives amidst the gloom. London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, demonstrated this aplenty when he visited this Thursday. His story is a tribute to the very best side of immigration and a reminder that social mobility still thrives. It’s a journey that started with his arriving from India with just £200 to his name, then building a hugely successful foreign exchange business, and now being Deputy Mayor of what he relentlessly reminded us, backed up with persuasive hard data, is the best city in the world. A firm remainer, unashamedly pro enterprise, convinced that London must reach out to major cities across the UK and the world, he was a breath of fresh air for the various businesses and foreign embassies present.

This has been a quite outstanding week for many reasons and as I left the office this evening, I noted that the Christmas lights were on in Bond Street! Have a wonderful weekend.

As ever,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 13th November – MEAG Reception
Frank Gardner OBE, BBC Security Correspondent – Middle East Access Group Networking Reception
Frank Gardner OBE, BBC Security Correspondent

Wednesday 21st November – D Group Lunch
Putting the I into IOT, opportunities for industry through early adoption
Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, The Digital Catapult

Monday 26th November – External BEI Meeting
ADB Business Opportunities Seminar
Samantha Hung (ADB ERO Frankfurt), Robert Guild (ADB Manila), Kevin Moore (ADB Manila)

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 2nd November

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 2nd November

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Members & Friends hello,

Remember, Remember – the 5th of November! Final call and closing date for the British International Awards 2019 entries. The ten categories have been designed to be inclusive of the wide range of sectors and disciplines our members cover and the online application form is simple and easy. If you have any questions, please call/email Melina or me as soon as you can. Thank you to those that have submitted already and good luck to all.

Grafton Street has been busy this week with a number of very well attended events. While conversation and debate continues to reference Brexit, we have had something of a break from the monopolisation of late.

The Middle East Access Group (MEAG) held a lunch with HE Mr Sulaiman Hamid Almazoui, Ambassador from UAE on Tuesday. HE was on great form and talked us through the wonderful opportunities in the UAE – the tallest building, wonderful weather, the Louvres and the beach. Where else can you find this in such a confined area? There are 440 flights a week from the UK to UAE and there were 25 million visitors in the last 6 months. There is also a Regional market of 2 billion people. He said that there is a great partnership with the UK and plans to grow the trade from £17.5 Billion to £25 Billion by 2020. The bottom line is that the UAE is open for business and we are here to assist.

On Wednesday, we hosted an engaging discussion with Nick Dyer, DFID’s Director General for Economic Development & International and Acting Director General, Policy, Research & Humanitarian. In line with DFID’s current narrative on UK PLC’s role in development, Nick provided some insights into DFID’s future thinking and direction. The discussion centred around how UK plc can leverage development funding to close the SDGs funding gap and deliver development to meet the SDG targets. A key takeaway from the lively discussion was that development cannot happen without the private sector, and what’s required is understanding how to unlock UK plc capabilities to deliver development.

Yesterday during an unusually heavy rainfall Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships visited us. She led a refreshingly open, honest discussion followed by a Q&A session that left the audience feeling very positive about the future of UK’s Apprenticeship programme. Anne Milton emphasised the government’s commitment to boosting productivity by investing in human capital and as part of this, increasing the quantity and quality of apprenticeships and business engagement with FE colleges.

Please keep those entries coming in and have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

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Tracey Smith
CEO, British Expertise International


Event highlights:

Wednesday 7th November – D Group Dinner
Transforming business models with Blockchain
Andrew Wheen, Principal Communications Consultant, Mott Macdonald

Tuesday 13th November – MEAG Reception
Middle East Access Group Networking Reception
Franck Gardner OBE, BBC Security Correspondent

Thursday 15th November – D Group Lunch
Improving the living standards of the poorest and most disadvantaged in society – the Conservative strategy
The Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 26th October

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 26th October

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Dear Members and friends,

On the back of last weeks (non)gotiations in Brussels perhaps some green shoots are now emerging, but I fear we’re still someway off the “rosy garden” just yet!

Nevertheless, Strategy International continues to look over the horizon and beyond Europe to new and exciting markets and opportunities for our members. This week’s instalment of events was no exception as we focused on what Latin America and the Caribbean have to offer UK plc and debated the challenges of Artificial Intelligence and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

On Monday, BEI CEO Tracey Smith attended the Oman – Open for Business Seminar, which included H.E. Sayyidd Badr Bin Hamad Al Busaidi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sultanate of Oman, The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, UK Minister of State for International Development and Minister of State for the Middle East at the FCO and DIT, and H.E. Hamish Cowell, UK Ambassador to Oman. The event highlighted the advantages of location, a safe business environment and many opportunities Oman offers to UK plc, particularly with reference to the development of the Duqm Port region.

On Wednesday we were delighted to host Jo Crellin, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean (LATAC) along with her team for a lunch discussion on opportunities for UK plc in the region and how her department can support UK business. The resounding message was that the LATAC region has exceptional opportunities that UK business can pursue and though there may be some challenges these are not insurmountable. Furthermore, the Department for International Trade is making a concerted effort to enhance awareness of LATAC opportunities for the benefit of UK plc.

Thursday evening was a memorable, thought provoking and exciting discussion with Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford on the Challenges of Artificial Intelligence. AI has been around since 1956 and “Today’s AI is Tomorrow’s Political Science.” There was an interesting debate concerning sovereign AI, with China intending to invest $140 Billion by 2030. Europe is also investing heavily but increasingly ethics, privacy and data control is becoming a topic of conversation. There is strong competition for young talent in this area and students leaving university can start on a salary of £85k!

Sir Nigel thought that we would not see a mass reduction in jobs and there would always be a role for human beings where emotional intelligence was involved. He recently co-authored “The Digital Ape” which dispels confusion and misconception and is a must-read for those interested in our future with smart machines.

Looking at the month ahead, November has a jam-packed calendar, so I have picked out of few event highlights for your diaries. Spaces are filling up so please do register now to avoid any disappointment.

1st November - The Rt Hon Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills

5th November - HE Catriona Lang, High Commissioner to Nigeria

6th November - MEAG Reception with Frank Gardner OBE

8th November - Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor, Business

21st November - Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO, The Digital Catapult

All it leaves me to say is to wish you all a great weekend and for those who have been able to take some leave, enjoy half term and some well-earned time with the family.

Warm Regards,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 30th October – BEI Lunch
Lunch with HE Mr Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates
HE Mr Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates

Thursday 1st November – D Group Lunch
Apprenticeships and Skills
The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Department for Education

Monday 5th November – BEI Meeting (15:00)
HE Catriona Laing CB, High Commissioner-Designate to Nigeria – Roundtable Discussion
HE Catriona Laing CB, High Commissioner-Designate to Nigeria

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 19th October

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 19th October

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Dear Members and friends,

A busy week in the latest instalment of ‘Carry on Brexit’. Difficult to know whether to laugh or cry. My cabbie to the Commons, I suspect, spoke for many when he said ‘just get on with it‘ (I have deleted the various expletives from the original version).

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To more positive matters. Life goes on, the UK will continue to produce some of the most outstanding technologies and business propositions and we are here to support and promote them. In that vein, welcome to two new members: Tokamak and Ascendal. Tokamak is backed by some of our leading business brains and is at the forefront of the race to achieve fusion (for those with Physics GCSE grade Z, like me, that’s the small matter of replicating the perpetually renewing heat of the sun – or 27 million degrees Fahrenheit – in a confined space). Ascendal is not challenging the boundaries of physics but, with its founder’s success in the UK and Asian transport sector, is determined to achieve something we can all relate to in the here and now; reshape how public transport is financed and awarded so as to deliver value for money and sustainable competition for taxpayers.

Next, Liverpool was the venue for this week’s D Group regional trip and a meeting for members with Joe Anderson, the city’s Mayor. Despite considerable cuts since 2012, the scale of the challenge facing the council is daunting, but Joe’s entrepreneurial spirit remains undiminished. Whether in tackling the city’s inequalities through home ownership schemes and new build schools, or further opening ‘Brand Liverpool’ to the world by building a new cruise liner terminal, Joe’s talk showed what can be achieved with a mindset that encourages business to grow in a way that benefits the whole region.

Next stop, Leeds.

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On Tuesday BEI hosted a discussion panel on the ever-increasing need for local content in international projects. Governments in emerging economies see this as an imperative to developing and enhancing local capacity and skills. Whilst, at times, there may be issues to contend with, all agreed local content makes good business sense.

The Wednesday visit of Labour’s impressive chair of the BEIS parliamentary committee, Rachael Reeves, to follow earlier visits of BEIS Sec of State, Greg Clarke and Perm Sec, Alex Chisholm, fell victim to the whips and Brexit debate and votes. However, we were able to welcome Professor of American History at Cambridge, Gary Gerstle, to discuss America’s standing as a global leader. The UK’s history as an Atlanticist, as much as a European, nation makes this a profoundly important matter to assess and forecast right now. Gary’s assessment is that we have moved out of the era of ‘Pax Americana’ and into an increasingly unstable, unpredictable world where four or five nations will compete to play a similarly dominant role. Whilst American values may have been diminished in this administration, its interests may in fact have benefited from Trump’s brinkmanship – an unpopular opinion perhaps, but one well worth keeping in mind.

The day before also saw an IMF briefing to the membership on the state of the Saudi economy. Another key challenge for those ‘American values’ and the UK.

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Our friends at the Algerian British Business Council had their annual dinner at The House of Lords. Olga Maitland is indefatigable in promoting UK/Algerian relations and bilateral trade. It’s often assumed that the French have a natural commercial advantage in North Africa. It was clear from the evening that it’s an assumption that should not go unchallenged and British expertise is warmly welcomed.

Next week has a full menu. Sir Nigel Shadbolt on the challenges to business and society of AI; the new HM Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jo Crellin, discussing her role and opportunities (this week we met Richard Burn, Jo Crellin’s Trade Commissioner colleague for China) and a BEI joint seminar with Omani Government representatives, on the outlook for opportunities in the Sultanate for UK companies.

All of us here wish you a relaxing weekend.

With best wishes,

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Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International


Event highlights:

Tuesday 24th October – BEI Lunch
What Latin America has to offer UK Business
Jo Crellin, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner and Sao Paulo Consul-General

Thursday 25th October – D Group Dinner
Artificial Intelligence – the challenge for business
Sir Nigel Shadbolt FRS FREng, Principal, Jesus College, Oxford

Thursday 1st November – BEI Meeting
UK Cross-Government Funds – Strategy & Delivery
Joelle Jenny, Director, Joint Funds Unit, Cross-Government Funds

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 12th October

Strategy International | Weekly Update - 12th October

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Dear Members and friends,

What a glorious week UK weather-wise but yet more hurricanes and typhoons are expected around the world. On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The findings call for urgent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society with the current 1°C rise effects being seen in more extreme weather.

Next week, Wednesday 17 October, BEI Member Mott MacDonald’s Ian Allison, Global Head Climate Resilience shares their views from a report titled Climate Change: Under 2°C - Mission Possible and sets out a timeline which identifies the likely major milestones along the route to achieving the historic Paris Agreement, the goal of which is to slow and ultimately halt progressive climate change.

Tuesday 9 October – ERBD Infrastructure and Procurement
On Tuesday, we hosted Jan Jackholt, Director for Procurement and Haytham Eissa, Principle Banker both from EBRD. With a triple A rating and a capital budget of 30bn Euro EBRD is a major player in supporting businesses and economies through financial investment, business services and involvement in high-level policy reform. The session provided an overview of EBRD priorities in the transport sector, with a focus on four key areas: green economy and sustainable transport, private sector participation, public private partnerships and regional connectivity.

Tuesday 9 October – Alia Moubayed, BEI Middle East Group
This was our first BEI MENA Evening Networking Reception and with over 50 people attending it was a great success. We have set up this Group as a result of demand from former Middle East Association Members and many of our own Members who operate in MENA. We will be running 11 receptions a year, with a speaker, complimentary to all D and BEI Members, and open for individuals who only wish to access this series at a fee of £1000 for a year. Thereafter membership of BEI will apply or single events can be accessed on a non-member rate of per event. Our next event is on the 6th November.

Alia Moubayed gave us a wide-ranging overview of the whole region. Although the rising price of oil has at last produced surpluses across the region, there are still six countries that have IMF Programmes (Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq, Bahrain and the Lebanon). She concluded by drawing to our attention the demography of the region. There has been huge population growth in both Egypt and Iraq and there will be an additional 25 million young people requiring jobs in the near future, a serious challenge for governments across the region.

Wednesday 10 October – DIFID’s Europe Department
The complexities of Brexit were laid bare at a meeting with DFID’s Europe Department on Wednesday as they presented on “Delivering Humanitarian Aid Programmes if there's no Brexit deal”. DFID has set out an offer to enable UK humanitarian aid organisations to continue bidding for funding from the core budget of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) until March 2019, without undertaking unmanageable financial and programmatic risk.

Thursday 11 October – Sir Mick Davis, Chief Executive and Treasurer, Conservative Party
Sir Mick’s subject was “Fighting the Corner for Free Enterprise”. His presentation was a tour de force and inspirational. The perception is that capitalism is in crisis and if we are not careful we might inadvertently create a segway to Populism and Marxism. A 2017 poll result showed that 43% equated capitalism with greed and there was growing support for the renationalisation of utilities, the railways and even car manufacturing. It’s clear that politicians and business must use the right language when talking about business and the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference set a clear tone:

“The people in this hall who have started their own businesses will know how thrilling it is to take a risk and start something new. But offering someone a job - creating opportunity for other people - is one of the most socially-responsible things you can do. It is an act of public service as noble as any other.”

Austerity has been the grievance of many people, and so it was very encouraging to hear the Prime Minister use her speech to announce its end. The poor have suffered and the seemingly the wealthy have prospered. We must address this, get through Brexit, make profit and create social good.

BEI Awards 2019 – Remember, Remember...
Please note that the deadline for entries for the BEI Awards to be submitted is 5th November – though we will be offering an extension for late submissions with an additional fee.

This has been a very busy but exciting and stimulating week. Have a relaxing weekend.

As ever,

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Tuesday 16th October – D Group Lunch
Lunch with Rachel Reeves MP
Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Wednesday 17th October – SBJBC/BEI Meeting
IMF briefing on Saudi economy
Tim Callen, Assistant Director, IMF

Thursday 18th October – D Group Dinner
America’s voice as a global leader; enhanced or diminished?
Professor Gary L Gerstle FBA, Paul Mellon Professor of American History