Dear Members and Friends,
It is a beautiful sunny morning and the Brexit story still has some way to run. We have had a tremendous week and some great events but before I run through these please note:
Time is quickly running out to book your place at the BEI Annual Awards Celebration Dinner. Held at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington on Wednesday 17 April attending this event will provide a great start to your Easter weekend. Our Awards celebrate the best in international infrastructure and development and the event is a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues you don’t always see and to catch up with Government stakeholders from around the world. This year our top prize, International Business of the Year, will be a three-way battle between last year’s winner Turner & Townsend and two industry giants – Bechtel and Mott MacDonald. Join us on the night to hear first-hand who the winner is!
Tuesday 26 March Lunch with His Excellency Umit Yalcinn, Ambassador Embassy of Turkey
The Ambassador commenced his talk by describing Turkey’s Pendulum Relationship with Russia, the USA and Europe over the last 30 years. The country sits in a key geostrategic position but aligns itself very closely with Europe and NATO. The abiding principles for Turkey are that it remains Democratic, Secular and Non-Arab. Turkey will also ensure for Europe; Energy Safety, Security and the security of Israel. He also stressed how much Turkey valued the UK’s support during the last coup attempt. There is an increasingly close relationship between our 2 countries with £18.5 worth of trade between the 2 countries last year and the UK is now the 4th largest investor in Turkey. There are also some very large Infrastructure opportunities in Iraq where Turkey is planning to spend $5 Billion.
Wednesday 27 March Lunch with James Kirkup Director of the Social Market Foundation
James Kirkup spoke to The D Group on the positive economic case for immigration and the political debate around the subject. As the Brexit referendum showed, it’s a topic of deep emotional resonance in modern Britain, but as James showed, when one focuses on the practical arguments, the case in favour is unequivocal. He also traced the development of Government policy on this position through the referendum campaigns to the present day to demonstrate how what was once the primary issue for Brexit has been relegated to lesser importance and the corresponding changing of attitudes to it throughout the UK.
Wednesday 27 March Lunch with Mohammed Nafees Zakira High Commissioner for Pakistan
The High Commissioner hosted lunch for all British Officers who had attended the Pakistan Staff College in Quetta (the old Indian Army Staff College). I am President of the Association and we could not have been made more welcome. Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of DFID funding and there is an increasingly close relationship between our 2 countries. We stand by to assist any of our Members who wish to do business in Pakistan.
Thursday 28 March Breakfast with Geoff Hoon
Despite the depressing ‘Groundhog day’ aspect of discussions around the likely direction of Brexit we restarted our Brexit Briefing series on Thursday. Geoff Hoon, variously a previous Chief Whip, Europe Minister, Secretary of State for Defence and Leader of the House, walked us through the evolving Westminster and Brussels permutations with great clarity; plus, having spent 10 years in Brussels, bringing a realistic dose of how the EU sees things and acts into a conversation that is too often overly focused on the UK’s preoccupations. We were delighted to be joined by Embassies from Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Thursday 28 March British Water BIM Conference
I spoke at the British Water BIM Conference in Birmingham on Strategic Leadership along with other key speakers from the CITB, PWC and several engineering companies. Nine of our Member Companies were present and the key message was that technology and people are key to the future of the industry.
26 to 29 March, 2019 ADB Business Opportunities Fair (BOF) Manila
BEI in partnership with DIT Manila led a delegation of UK Companies on a mission to Manila, to coincide with the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) annual Business Opportunities Fair(BOF). In addition to the BOF, the delegation participated in a workshop on “Navigating Aid Funded Business”. The British Embassy in Manila also hosted a lunch at the ADB for the UK delegation with other guests. The UK Board Director at the ADB, Philip Rose and the British Embassy Deputy Head of Mission in Manila, Alastair Totty welcomed the delegation. It was a packed itinerary, with meetings covering; doing Business with ADB, an update on the ADB procurement system, opportunities by Sector, thematic opportunities and more.
This week also saw the publication of this month’s Perspectives articles. This month we have an interview with Gisela Stuart, who chaired the Vote Leave Campaign, whilst Joanna Crellin, HM’s Trade Commissioner for Latin America, in conjunction with our associates the British Foreign Policy Group, makes the case for British investment in the region. Finally, an in-house analysis of the ongoing conflict in the Yemen, and what must be done for a solution to be found.
As I finish this Newsletter the next Brexit vote has yet to take place and who knows what will happen. However, it is a glorious day and do not forget that the clocks go forward this weekend. It is also Mothering Sunday. Have a great weekend.
Seumas Kerr CBE - Managing Director, The D Group
Tuesday 2nd April – The D Group Dinner
Dinner with Sir John Armitt CBE
Sir John Armitt CBE, Chair, National Infrastructure Commission
Wednesday 3rd April – The D Group Dinner
Reflections on the future of Defence, including the strategic role that Joint Forces Command will play in that future
General Sir Chris Deverell KC MBE ADC Gen, Commander, Joint Forces Command UK
Thursday 4th April – BEI Meeting
Indonesia: Infrastructure roundtable with Scott Younger
Dr Scott Younger OBE, FICE, President Commissioner of Glendale Partners
Tuesday 9th April – The D Group Lunch
New horizons for UK manufacturing?
Dick Elsy CBE, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult
Wednesday 17th April 2019 – BEI Awards
British Expertise International Awards 2019