Dear Members and Friends,

It is with a bittersweet taste that I write my last Strategy International newsletter, as after many years of exciting and diverse work I leave next Friday to take on a new challenge. I will always remember the fascinating people I have met over the years and the thought provoking debates I have been privileged to participate in. A truly unique organisation which stands me in good stead for what lies ahead. Before then it falls to me to review another busy week at Grafton Street.

On Tuesday BEI hosted a presentation on EBRD’s work in Central Asia by Bruno Balvanera, Managing Director for Central Asia, who was joined by his colleagues Neil McKain, Regional Director covering Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan and Jonathan Aves, Senior Political Counsellor. The discussion focused on the importance of sustainable and inclusive development in the region; the sectors that are currently seeing the most development and those with the biggest growth potential; and how current political events in the region are influencing investor behaviour.

Also on Tuesday, The D Group hosted Alexandre Fasel, the Swiss Ambassador to the UK, for lunch. The Ambassador spoke at length about Switzerland’s relationship with the EU, offering his experience as something of a cautionary tale about the EU’s intractability over its laws and the immensely high value it places on homogeneity across the bloc. However, he also demonstrated how Switzerland had made a success of its arrangement through its contribution to international bodies such as the UN, its historical focus on diplomacy throughout the world – it was for example the first landlocked country to sign a treaty with Japan, in 1864! – and its prominence in financial industries. He suggested that the UK, whilst undoubtedly having the capability within its Civil Service to achieve Brexit, must adopt a different attitude in its approach if it is to make as smooth a transition as possible.


Thursday saw the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) partnering to hold a workshop on the business opportunities in the Caribbean. A host of senior speakers from both organisations outlined their mission in the region, guidance on working with the CDB and navigating procurement processes, and the past and present opportunities in the pipelines. We were also updated on the DIT’s involvement in the Caribbean, and the Jamaica National Compliance Regulatory Authority informed us of the proper precautions needed to import to the regions.

Whether it is fast serves, fast bowlers or fast cars, I hope you all enjoy a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you all again soon.

Best Wishes,


James Jones, Director of Account Management

Event highlights:

Tuesday 16th July 2019 – BEI
Meet the Ambassador of Afghanistan to the UK
HE Mr Said T. Jawad, Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Kingdom

Tuesday 16th July 2019 – The D Group
Dinner with Philip New, CEO, Catapult
Philip New, CEO, Energy Systems Catapult

Tuesday 23rd July 2019 – The D Group
Discussion of report on post 18 education and funding 
Philip Augar, Practitioner & Writer