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Dear Members and Friends,

Another unprecedented, but also increasingly typical week of UK politics. No matter what the new Independent Party might mean for Mrs May’s government, it is safe to say that it is another bump in the road to Brexit. The timing of this extraordinary news certainly added an extra dynamic to our events this week, in particular Philip Rycroft’s update on exiting the EU, full details of which follow below. 

A busy week kicked off on Tuesday with a flurry of BEI events. Firstly, H.E. Chris Rampling MBE, British Ambassador to Lebanon shared his economic and political updates on Lebanon, as well as on potential opportunities for UK Business. He pointed to some evidence of Lebanon working to improve the business environment through fiscal reforms, a capital investment plan, power sector restructuring and oil and gas exploration. He referred to the McKinsey report on Lebanon for some additional insights on the state of the economy and doing business.

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We were then joined by Nepal Minister for Finance, Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, for a briefing on opportunities for UK Business in Nepal, where he highlighted some of the sectors of interest for UK companies including Infrastructure, Energy, Tourism, Industry, Transport, ICT and Agriculture. The Honourable Minister also emphasised some of the recent efforts the Nepal government had made in improving some policies, procedures, business practices for doing business. This London visit comes ahead of the upcoming ‘Nepal Investment Summit 2019’ from 29 to 30 March 2019 in Kathmandu. 

Wrapping up a jam packed day, BEI’s Central Asia and Transcaucasus Business Information Group (CATBIG) hosted Georgian Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Mrs Tamar Beruchashvili where she shared an insightful presentation on why Georgia is an attractive country to invest and do business in. It is a strategic bridge between Europe and Asia, with rapidly developing infrastructure and great human capital. Georgia has an attractive economic narrative and its government is implementing a comprehensive reform agenda which includes a focus on governance and SME reform. Current developments include a flagship project to develop the Anaklia deep sea port and the wider region. Following the presentation, members enjoyed a networking reception with the Ambassador featuring wine from a range of Georgian producers.

On Wednesday night Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, reminded us that any economically thriving city depends on having guaranteed safety and security. In her discussion of ‘Keeping London safe’, she stressed that above all the police are civilians in uniform, and despite inevitable changes in the technology, it is essential that the Met maintains its personal, face-to-face approach to policing. The Met has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last twenty years, with 30% of its 30,000 regular constables now women (a percentage that rises to 50% in specific, higher-level roles) and 30% from BME backgrounds. With the capability and connectivity to open more doors internationally than many other UK public bodies, the Met is one of London’s greatest assets, and is held in the highest regard around the world.

We concluded the week last night when we welcomed Philip Rycroft, Permanent Secretary for Exiting the European Union, back to the D Group almost 12 months to the day since his last visit. He gave us a tour de force of where we are, the 320 Policy Domains that have to be addressed, what is being stockpiled by the Government and various other high-level activities. We are now at the end of the beginning and Phase 2 (post 29 March) is now being thought through. We will have to renegotiate our position with the European Union and life will be very different as a third country. We will also need to learn a whole new skill set to influence the EU from without the EU, in addition to renegotiating our trade relationships around the World. Philip said that when he assumed his appointment his department had 40 staff: now it has over 750.

Here’s wishing you all a peaceful half-term weekend and we look forward to seeing you soon.

With best wishes,

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James Jones, Director of Account Management


Event highlights:

Tuesday 26th February – BEI Meeting
Opportunities for UK Plc in Eastern Europe
DIT Eastern Europe and Central Asia representatives

Wednesday 27th February – BEI Meeting
Roundtable with Martyn Warr OBE, Consul General to Kurdistan
Martyn Warr OBE, Consul General to Kurdistan

Wednesday 6th March – D Group Lunch
A.I & Cyber Security
Dr Pete Burnap, Data Science & Cyber Analytics, Cardiff University

British Expertise International Awards:

Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019