Dear Members and Friends,
This has been quite an amazing week for Strategy International. It is the Foreign Office Leadership week and we were very fortunate to have over 30 Ambassadors/High Commissioners visit 23 Grafton Street over Monday and Tuesday. We would like to thank them all for making time in their busy diaries to come and join us in Strategy International. More on that later. On Wednesday Haydn Jones came for lunch and briefed us on "Bitcoin, Crypto Currencies and Blockchain. What do they mean for UK Industry?" We had a wonderful turn out and were given a masterclass. Finally on Thursday we had a private viewing at D-Contemporary for 2 artists, Sophy Bristol and Lucy Erskine. They are cousins and a daughter and niece of General Erskine, who had been a Commander of Hong Kong. Lucy’s brother gave a very moving speech and brought the history of the artists to life.
I have included below details of the week’s events:
South Asia – Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan
The two High Commissioners and the Ambassador are committed to support British businesses entering the Nepalese, Pakistani and Sri Lankan markets. All three countries possess many attributes that should encourage foreign direct investment and growth opportunities. The following sectors are ripe for investment: education, energy, infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing.
South-East Asia – Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia
Cambodia and Laos have the youngest population in the region; the average age being between 23 and 24 years old. The British Ambassadors highlighted the market’s demand for investment in Education. In the next 10 years, Indonesia will become one of the top 10 largest economies in the world. The Ambassador, Moazzam Malik, presented the country’s priority sectors to our members: aerospace, rail, maritime, renewable energy and defence & security.
Unsurprisingly, we had a packed house on Tuesday morning as we welcomed eight Ambassadors from the MENA region (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Sudan). Whilst there are challenges in each country, the message was clear; opportunities exist in each country and they are keen to support UK trade in the region. Broadly speaking, the region as a whole continues its journey in becoming a tolerant, open and competitive business destination. Opportunities for UK businesses range from basic to high-end in all sectors. As ever, there was stress on relationship-building in the region to secure contracts, and the Embassies and Strategy International are there to assist.
The Southern Africa Ambassadors’ event highlighted the diversity of the region, with South Africa and Zimbabwe going through some political transitions that could lead to improved economic development and therefore opportunities for British companies. Namibia’s stability makes it an attractive destination for business, whilst attendees at the Zambia and Malawi event thought that although there were challenges the markets were worth exploring.
According to the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook 2018, East Africa remains the fastest growing sub-region in Africa. Whilst regional security continues to be a concern in some parts, Excellencies Nic Hailey, British High Commissioner to Kenya; Sarah Cooke British, High Commissioner to Tanzania; Peter West, British High Commissioner to Uganda; and Jo Lomas, British High Commissioner to Rwanda spoke of a region with growing opportunities for British companies.
According to the various UK Heads of Mission in the Francophone Africa countries, there is a dearth of British companies present in the region and profitable opportunities exist and the perceived language barrier is surmountable.
Finally, on Tuesday evening we hosted six Ambassadors from the Region covered by CATBIG. Some 80 members with business interests in the region attended the session. HE Judith Farnworth (Armenia), HE Dr Carole Crofts (Azerbaijan), HE Mike Gifford (Kazakhstan), HE Robin Ord-Smith MVO (Kyrgyzstan), HE Justin McKenzie Smith (Georgia) and HE Christopher Allan (Uzbekistan) each delivered a presentation on their country and discussed several intriguing questions as a collaborative group. We then enjoyed their company during the evening reception, where each took time to speak to as many members as possible. Alexandra Barnes is writing a full report from the session. Please stay tuned.
Bitcoin, Crypto Currencies and Blockchain. What do they mean for UK Industry?
Haydn Jones gave us a 20-minute masterclass on crypto currencies and Blockchain. Blockchain has the potential to add huge value to the economy. It has the potential to provide a very elegant solution to store value, act as a ledger and make payments. It can also help automate payments and liberate many businesses from the cash flow challenges that they face. After his presentation, there was a very lively debate and we will invite Haydn back before the end of the year. He, in collaboration with Maria Vigliotti, have agreed to write a book on the subject, which I am sure will be an excellent read.
At the end of an outstanding and very busy week, we wish you all the best for a long weekend.
With best wished,
Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group
Wednesday 6th June – BEI Networking Reception
House of Lords Networking Reception
The Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
Thursday 21st June – D Group Lunch
Human Capital: How reform of HM Treasury can unlock Britain’s Potential
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Member of Parliament for Putney
Tuesday 26th June – BEI Meeting
Chile: Infrastructure and Smart Cities Opportunities
Mark Menzies MP, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Chile, Colombia, Peru
Catherine Taylor, Head of Economic Affairs & Sustainable Affairs, British Embassy Santiago
Greg Holland, Managing Director, British Chilean Chamber of Commerce
Sam Hoexter, Regional Head, Latin America, UKEF