Dear Members and Friends,
Written queuing at Beijing airport so I can't pretend to have been in and around Grafton Street this week. The team's round up of events across Strategy International is as follows.
The British Foreign Policy Group, our closely associated NFP research institute, followed up its very well received regional event in Southampton last week (impressively addressed by Sir Simon McDonald, the current Perm Sec at the FCO), with an equally stimulating event in Parliament. Chaired by long time Foreign Affairs and Defence champion Conservative John Baron MP, the event brought together a cross-party panel consisting of Labour’s Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the International Development Committee, and SNP’s Angus MacNeil, Chair of the International Trade Committee with Crossbencher (and former senior diplomat) Lord Hannay of the Lords International Relations Committee, as well as Executive Director of the BFPG Tom Cargill, to discuss the need for more investment in all of the UK’s international engagements.
The BFPG is all about making UK foreign policy more tangible and relevant to the general population. It looks beyond Brexit to a world where UK foreign policy must necessarily engage directly on the global stage, other than through the EU, securing the nation's strategic, trade and security interests. I commend to you BFPG's recent publication "Rising power- Revitalising British Foreign Policy".
On Thursday BEI welcomed HE Mr Nasser Kamel, Ambassador for the Arab Republic of Egypt. The UK is the largest foreign direct investor in the country, to the tune of over £20 billion. Major areas of focus in this meeting were multiple major infrastructure opportunities and a clear desire to see more UK higher education initiatives in Egypt. This was the fifth regionally-focused event in our Middle-East series. It also follows on from BEI having had trade missions to Egypt this year and last. There is a further BEI follow up around infrastructure next week on the 28th at our member DLA Piper's offices.
We have a stimulating trio next week. We very much look forward to next week's (fifth) Middle East event, where The D Group welcomes HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan to give his views on the current challenges in the region. The D Group also welcomes Elizabeth Linder, one of the founding top management of Facebook in Europe to discuss "Inside the social media revolution: what business leaders need to know". On Thursday at 6pm D Contemporary, our art gallery, launches a superb photographic exhibition of images taken by Doug Scott, one of the outstanding mountaineers of his generation, noted for the first ascent of the southwest face of Everest in 1975. All sales of his works are in aid of Community Action Nepal, a hugely respected charity he set up to help the people of Nepal. Many of CAN's health and community centres were laid waste by the 2015 earthquake and Strategy and its membership, very notably WYG Ltd, have been providing financial and technical help since for the rebuild programme. Opening event is 30th November 6-9pm, please RSVP to Sophie - email@example.com.
The week should have seen a fourth at The D Group, John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service. John unfortunately has an unexpected diary conflict and will now engage with D Group in March.
As a final and uplifting note on which to finish... We so often hear that other countries in Europe (don't mention the Germans) are making all the technological export running in China. Not today. The newspapers here in Beijing extensively report the British invention, Graphene, and a conference in China to explore joint development. Good to read about the new Trade Minister, Rona Fairhead, waving the flag on this one. Regrettably I failed in my amateur trade ambassadorial duties. I was asked twice in Beijing about Graphene's technical aspects and my Grade 3 'O' level physics failed to come to the rescue.
Best wishes to all.
Peter O'Kane - Chairman, Strategy International
Wednesday 29th November – D Group Dinner
Inside the social media revolution: what business leaders need to know
Elizabeth Linder, Founder & CEO, The Conversational Century
Thursday 30th November – D Contemporary
High Exposure - Doug Scott in aid of CAN sponsored by WYG
Exhibition Private View
Thursday 7th December – D Group Lunch
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea
H.E. Mr. Joonkook Hwang