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Dear Members and Friends,

With the backdrop of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and Windrush it has been quite a week for both the Royal Family and the Government. It has also been exceedingly difficult travelling around central London!
 
How Are We Going to Sort Out Brexit?
We started the week with lunch and an excellent talk from Hilary Benn who is Chairman of the Brexit Select Committee. He explained the context within which the Government is operating and expressed his concerns about what had to be achieved in the next 12 months. His views as a “Remainer” are well known but he gave a very well balanced update of the challenges we face, especially if we do not remain in the Customs Union. I was left with the impression that we still have much to achieve!
 
Optimising UK post Brexit Trade Policy.
On Tuesday Shanker Singham returned to give us a masterclass on the Trade Options post Brexit. He has just assumed the appointment as the Director Responsible for International Trade and the Competition Unit in the Institute of Economic Affairs. He laid out the Global Economic Environment within which the United Kingdom must operate and gave some very erudite suggestions on what the UK could or should do. In the first instance the UK should form a view on what it wants the World to look like and then decide what can be accomplished with Independent Trade Agreements. A line must be agreed with the Commonwealth and we should develop an Independent Trade Policy. The question and answer session was very lively and I feel far more optimistic on the options the UK has post Brexit.
 
Infrastructure Investment Opportunities in Nicaragua.
Wednesday afternoon saw Dr Paul Oquist, Nicaraguan Minister for Policies, accompanied by  the Nicaraguan Ambassador, return to British Expertise to discuss the investment climate and current opportunities in the country. His outlook was extremely positive, with Nicaragua recognised as a regional leader in economic growth, fiscal stability and the reduction of poverty, inequality and crime. Dr Oquist spoke with his customary élan on a whole range of projects, focused mainly in the construction, energy, and agribusiness sectors. Many thanks to The Caribbean Council, our co-hosts, for supporting the event.  
 
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) Review of the Conflict Security Stability Fund (CSSF).
ICAI’s red/amber review score of the CSSF suggested that shortcomings in aid programmes delivered as part of the Government’s CSSF are undermining its contribution to building peace, stability and security. At the round table discussion on Wednesday this week, our members were able to share their experiences working on CSSF programmes and suggest other areas for consideration. The review stated that CSSF is flexible and responsive to the priorities of the National Security Council, but variable programme quality, weak results management and insufficient learning undermine its contribution to building peace, stability and security.
 
In summary, it has been a quite outstanding week, assisted by the very welcome sun. We wish our very own Ruari Cahill the very best in his sub 3 hours attempt in the London Marathon, wearing a D Group Tie!

Have a wonderful weekend, 

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Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group


Event highlights:

Wednesday 25th April – D Group Meeting
Raising the Bar – with GDPR
Deborah Dillon, Data Privacy Lead, Atos
 
Wednesday 25th April – D Group Dinner
Moving Brexit forward – what DEXEU needs from UK business
Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary, Department for Exiting the European Union
 
Tuesday 1st May – D Group Dinner
Ensuring a fair energy market
Dr Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive, Ofgem
 
Wednesday 2nd May – D Group Afternoon Forum
The Ageless Workplace and The Future of Work
Dr Eliza Filby, Academic, Writer, Speaker on Millennials
Richard Goold, Partner, Moorhouse Consulting