BEI News – 10th February

Cabinet Reshuffle
This cabinet ‘mini’-shuffle was more of a ‘major’ one for business that works closely with government, particularly  for those BEI members working in areas where ‘G to G’ engagement is key to progressing export opportunities. Whilst the logic of the changes  is clear the timing may not be ideal, particularly at a DiT that was really getting into its stride under the new Secretary Of State. What is the logic behind the reallocations? Growth. You can’t grow an economy without dependable energy supplies. The depth of the energy crisis, both in terms of the need to decarbonise and to achieve energy security,  does argue for a stand-alone department that can focus fully on delivering this challenging balancing act. Likewise, as we transition into the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is clear that success in science and technology, with material help and pump-priming from government , is key to growth. Seeing Minister George Freeman’s often lonely decade-long campaign to have this recognised was warming. The domino effect, however, is a ‘the rest of’ UK business being added to DiT or, depending on which paper you read, DiT being merged into what was BEIS. Inevitably there are questions about responsibility for how export promotion of our key energy and science and tech sectors will be handled but this should be reasonably easy to structure. The lingering concern, though, particularly following the experience of previous ministerial mergers, concerns the danger of ministers and the civil service being distracted by internal , structural concerns at a time when the UK really needs to power up its export drive.

Ukraine Event
This was a timely presentation at BEI’s offices by the DiT and its respective lead and support policy advisors (Mott Macdonald and Crown Agents) on how it is approaching aligning UK enterprise with a range of reconstruction needs in Ukraine. Notwithstanding the difficulties of pinning anything down in a war zone with consistent, reliable clarity this was a highly informative event to an audience largely comprising of membership organisations and trade associations, or ‘multipliers’, to use DiT Rodney Berkely’s phrase.

Following a short introduction from DiT’s Rodney Berkeley overviewing how DiT and HMG were approaching what must rank as the 21st century version of the Marshall Plan, HE Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador reminded those present of just how stark the situation is. Crown Agents and Mott gave a clear, crisp overview of the range of likely needs, from the immediate to the longer term. One of the outcomes of their current work alongside HMG is a comprehensive publication titled ‘Guide to Exporting to Ukraine’, due to be launched in a few weeks’ time following further consultation with industry. The Guide is intended as a start point for UK companies wanting to join the Ukraine market in support of the both the immediate and longer-term recovery and reconstruction effort and includes an overview of current reconstruction needs; donor funding and procurement; operations, legal and regulatory information; and an appendix with advice on security, training and logistics. This will be a living document, updated as necessary with a summary of major updates applicable to supporting the successful aims of the project. Given the disaster in his home country there was a much appreciated  visit to the UK by Turkish contractor Süha Canatan at Doğuş Group, which is actively partnering UK companies. 

The key financing side was covered by a trio of of key players, the UK’s UKEF, EBRD and Washington -based, private sector founder, IFC. Post -event networking raised a number of useful points and contacts. A big thank you to the whole DiT team present, not least following a morning with important departmental changes emerging.  

There will be further events scheduled as the programme develops.

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