Dear Members and Friends,
A quieter week in terms of events, but an opportunity to enjoy a very busy calendar of meetings with members and take the pulse of things.
In short, whilst it was a delight to hear that members are increasingly engaged with the greater breadth of services here and enjoying the enhanced events programme, the general atmosphere is one of constructive concern. The key is the adjective. It's not the doom & gloom concern or the ‘remoaning’ tone that tends to be how the serious print and broadcast media characterise UK business. It's a businessperson's concern; a “we'd -rather -not- be- here- but- let's- be -positive- in- tone and get on with it” concern. Alongside this can-do approach, though, there are undoubtedly frustrations with Government as its functions, focus and general ability to respond are too often swamped by Brexit. Whereas the previous balance was 50/50 frustration and sympathy it's now tilting to the former. We can’t, sadly, wave a Brexit-solution magic wand here but we can and will endeavour to ensure we work to maximise active and, above all, constructive discourse between HMG and our nearly 200 members in the coming months; as well as providing an active, in-house forum to allow our business leaders to meet, share views, ventilate a bit, help each other and collaborate on initiatives.
On Monday, Alexandra represented our Central Asia and Trans-Caucasus Business Interest Group at a roundtable meeting with the Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia, hosted by the Lord Mayor at Mansion House. The presentations covered the four pillars of Georgia’s development priorities: improvements in infrastructure, the business environment, education and governance. Georgia has a clear intention to be a true enterprise economy, with wide-ranging reforms paving the way for sustainable development and investment. It was great to see many members around the table, and we look forward to helping with the way forward in this opportunity-rich market.
Tuesday saw HE DR Rizal Sukma, the Ambassador of Indonesia, update members on trends and opportunities in this economically and strategically important nation. Indonesia is a focus of a wide range of UK private sector and HMG efforts, both ODA and trade assistance. The opportunities for ‘UK inc’, across the board, are substantial, whether in PFI/infrastructure or, as with so many of the ambassadors that visit us, in growing the education links. Some 4000 Indonesian students come to the UK annually. A post-Brexit landscape needs to build on this. Note to Home Secretary; sort out the inclusion of students in those immigration numbers and the post-graduation work visas!!
Best wishes to all.