Dear Members and Friends,
With World Cup fever starting to subside, we are left a country reacquainted with the feeling of national pride. The sterling efforts of our boys in Russia have also brought a much-welcomed distraction from the white noise of Brexit. Whatever the outcome next March, and that’s far from obvious right now, it is clear the UK must forge new global partnerships. In keeping with that theme, it has been an incredibly international week and busy here at Strategy as we strive to keep our members informed of the business opportunities both in the UK and overseas. Here are some of the highlights for you to enjoy.
Infrastructure Opportunities in Guinea
On Tuesday morning, Guinea’s Mining Minister Magassouba and Investment Minister Curtis, together with the British Ambassador to Guinea, H.E. Ms Catherine Inglehearn, and the Guinea Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Alexandre Cécé Loua presented a wide range of opportunities for British companies. The country requires both financial investment as well as project management expertise. Looking to diversify beyond mining, the country’s infrastructure prospects included: rail, roads, ports, energy, water, and agriculture to name a few.
UK contribution to trade and investment in Asia and the Pacific
In the evening, FCO Minister of State Mark Field explained to us the meaning of “running Whip” when on a crucial day for the Government, with his mobile glowing and buzzing in his pocket, he none the less made time to give us a fascinating and encouragingly upbeat analysis of the potential for UK interests and business in the Asia and Pacific region, while also spreading the discourse rather wider. The FCO’s Director of Trade Diplomacy also joined us, and with him too a number of useful connections were made. Unsurprisingly we had a crowded table with participants from our members’ top levels. Mark spoke to us seriously and frankly and with good humour, and we very much hope to have him back again before long.
DFID Economic Development Programme in Uganda
On Wednesday, Paul Turner, DFID Regional Adviser, Cities and Infrastructure, East Africa did a great job of showing how the in-country team in Uganda is coordinating ever more closely to support development objectives recognising the centrality of urban planning and infrastructure development as key drivers. He highlighted how CDC, UKEF, DIT, FCO and DFID are improving the way they leverage their respective skills and resources in support of common objectives and trying to ensure UK plc sector can tap into that effectively to help HMG in delivering development and economic prosperity in Uganda. IMC Director, Nigel Penfold then provided a very complimentary and practical case study example of a feasibility study IMC were doing for DFID on urban infrastructure.
Lunch with the British High Commissioner to India
On Wednesday, we had the pleasure to welcome The Honourable Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, the British High Commissioner to the Republic of India, who spoke about the geopolitical overview of the country, the domestic scene and the financial situation. Whilst India is facing economic and political challenges, it still remains the third largest investor into the UK. The country as a whole is an open and competitive business destination. Opportunities for UK businesses range from hard infrastructure, automotive, pharmaceuticals to technology and artificial intelligence. There was an emphasis on relationship-building in the region to secure contracts. Sam Hoexter, UK Export Finance’s Regional Head of India, supported the High Commissioner’s message that commercial opportunities exist and highlighted that UK Export Finance together with the British High Commission in India are keen to support UK trade in the region.
The challenges and opportunities for modern service delivery
Bearing in mind all that is going on in Parliament at the moment, we were very fortunate that Secretary of State for Justice, The Rt Hon David Gauke MP was able to join us for supper on Wednesday evening. This was his third visit, the last one being when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. As the head of a spending Department he very succinctly laid out the challenges he faces, especially bearing in mind the 45% cut in the Department’s Budget over the last 8 years. We had a very interesting discussion on public expectations, the state of the economy and how going forward the State is going to have to take a holistic view of the whole person. The Beveridge Report of 1942 listed the 5 giants (Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness) which ultimately led to our current Government Structure. Today we need to ensure that people do not fall between the cracks between Departments and ensure, as already alluded to, that we adopt this holistic approach.
Opportunities for Japanese-UK defence collaboration
Thursday morning saw a productive breakfast with Mitsuko Hayashi, Director of International Defence Equipment for the Japanese Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA). Ms Hayashi spoke passionately about the on-going opportunities for Japanese-UK collaboration in defence, through both government to government and industry-led initiatives. Outside of the US, the UK is Japan’s leading foreign defence partner, with five major joint research projects in progress and a clear appetite to strengthen that collaboration with a defined joint equipment platform in the future. And with Japan now one of a handful of potential partners for the UK’s Future Fighter programme, we look forward to this growing collaboration.
DFID - Working and delivering in South Sudan
On Thursday BEI hosted an eye-opening event on DFID’s work and delivering impact in South Sudan responding to opportunities and challenges. Becks Buckingham OBE, Head of DFID in South Sudan, with support from John Shotton, Head of International Economic and Social Development Unit at Mott McDonald and Pia MacRae, Chief Business Delivery Officer at Crown Agents, shared some insightful details of experiences and challenges of working in this volatile part of the world. With a focus on humanitarian, education and health interventions, DFID is delivering some greatly needed support to one of the world’s most fragile countries that has been beset by conflict since it was created in 2011.
Accelerating Indonesian Industry 4.0 Strategy
We were delighted to welcome Mr. I Gusti Putu Suryawirawan, the Director General of Industrial Resilience and International Access Development, Ministry of Industry, Indonesia and his team as they shared the Indonesian government’s industrial strategy, Indonesia 4.0. The meeting covered Indonesia’s integrated roadmap to implement several strategies to move Indonesia into the top ten global economies by 2030.
All that remains for me to say is, have wonderful weekend and please do check our events calendar for what’s coming up in the second half of the year.