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,


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