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.


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,


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