Dear Members and Friends,
The 'D' in D Group does not, as some surmise, stand for 'Defence' – but the sector, alongside aerospace and security, has always been a strong suit since D's early '90s creation. This was reinforced on Tuesday when Stephen Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary at the MoD, joined a highly-informed group, including an ex Defence Secretary of State, for a wide ranging discussion around the department's requirements from and relationship with its suppliers. His private sector experience shone through and it was a constructive and engaged session.
Private sector contribution to the complex Brexit issues facing HMG by delivering sector-critical input and helping alleviate the demands on government capacity is more important than ever. No one could honestly say that existing channels are making this relationship work like a well-oiled machine at present. Good in parts but......... The importance of the SME sector within this dialogue, to the domestic economy and to Trade, is well documented. The segment is important to Strategy International, whether via our SME members or the critical role SMEs play in the large and complex supply chains of the many larger companies in membership. It was therefore a delight to welcome the highly impressive DG of the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall, to discuss an issue facing us all regardless of whatever Brexit deal is hammered out; an education system that delivers the right mix of academic and technical skills to employers, and to a world-beating standard. Adam will shortly be writing about his thoughts and proposals, and we look forward to seeing these in print. Amongst the priorities, we fully agree, is much greater interaction between the teaching profession and business. The varied world of work, the spectrum of skills it needs and the opportunities it brings need a much better press in the classroom.
Likewise, it was reassuring to hear SoS DIT set out his stall, mainly to the SME community, at the all party parliamentary group on Trade on Tuesday, ably chaired by Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP. The emphasis on involving 'Team UK' in consortium building and including SMEs was welcomed, albeit tinged with a degree of concern that HMG not put too much faith in relying on digital solutions to grow SME export involvement in favour of traditional trips and face-to-face contact.
Other activities at SIL this week?
- Menna Rawlings, the UK High Commissioner to Australia gave members a well-received update on developments and opportunities, continuing our series of meetings on major export markets within the Commonwealth. This followed sessions with our High Commissioners to India and to Canada
- A small but highly focused session took place with representatives of the Korean government regarding public sector procurement in Infrastructure
- We accommodated the “Doing Business in Saudi Arabia” workshop for the Saudi British Joint Business Council, chaired by our own Advisory Board member, Baroness Symons
Next week precedes the dog days of August and the traditional month's cessation of events at Strategy International. We go into the holidays with a highly topical discussion about the very dynamic situation in the Middle East with Jane Corbin, the award-winning BBC and freelance journalist. This event also signals a material uptick in the number of events on the MENA region.
Peter O'Kane - Executive Chairman, Strategy International
Thursday 27th July – The D Group Lunch
Tension in the Middle East and the implications for the UK
Jane Corbin, Broadcaster, Author and Investigative Journalist
Tuesday 12th September – The D Group Lunch
Improving UK competitiveness and skills in the nuclear industry
Lord Hutton, Chief Executive, Nuclear Industry Association
Friday 15th September – BEI Working Lunch
DFID Kenya: An Update from the Country Director
Pete Vowles, Country Director, DFID