Dear Members and Friends,
It is now nearly a year since the merger of the FCO and DFID was first announced to form the FCDO. When announcing this change, the Prime Minister commented that it would lead to ‘a single UK strategy for each country…(which) will be implemented on the ground by the relevant UK Ambassador, who will lead all of the Government’s work in the host country’. As we look ahead to hosting our annual ‘Meet the Ambassadors’ series, we will hear directly from a wide range of British Ambassadors and High Commissioners covering many of the geographical regions of interest to our members. They will provide insights on their expanded roles and the focus for their countries, give economic and political updates and focus on areas of opportunities for UK plc. This is always a popular series, but we believe it is particularly important this year — as the UK now pursues its own independent trading policy internationally and focuses on export driven economic growth as we slowly emerge from the pandemic.
The series will take place from 8th June to 17th June, covering South East Europe, Central Asia & the Caucasus, South Asia, South East Asia, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, Francophone Africa, The Middle East, Latin America and The Caribbean. To find out more and register, click on the regions you are interested in, or here on the events page for details.
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) published their report on the UK government’s management of the 2020 0.7% ODA spending target this week. The report reveals that, whilst “The government successfully met its aid spending target in 2020 through reprioritising programmes as the COVID-19 pandemic hit — but economic uncertainty and the government’s ‘cut once, cut deep’ approach meant that cuts to bilateral aid were ultimately more drastic than they needed to be.”
We started this week with a stellar panel from across the education sector who joined us to discuss the continuing response to the global education crisis. Jo Bourne (Global Partnership for Education), Robert Jenkins (UNICEF), Halsey Rogers (World Bank Group) and Carlos Vargas-Tamez (UNESCO) provided members with expert insights into the lost learning crisis and discuss key issues with representatives from our Education Working Group. A central theme was reiterated by all panellists — there is not only a need to rebuild the education sector but a once in a generation opportunity to reform it for the better.
Lord Bates, the PM’s Trade Envoy to Ethiopia participated in a roundtable event with BEI members currently operating in the country. Whilst this provided members with an opportunity to discuss some of the challenges of working there, the overall discussion largely centred around the benefits of doing business in Ethiopia. What was also clear was the increased support that DIT and UKEF were looking to provide businesses, particularly for SMEs looking to enter the market. As a follow up, we will be hosting a Deep Dive on doing business in Ethiopia with Department of International Trade (DIT) Country Director for Trade and Investment, Mark Dittmer-Odell, and other colleagues, where specific opportunities will be explored in more detail.
We were delighted to be joined by Jonathan Knott, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner to Latin America and the Caribbean (LATAC) together with Luke Durigan, the DIT Director for Infrastructure. They stressed the potential in the region — although British trade exports to the region represent only 2% of overall exports in 2020, there is a pipeline of £140 Billion of infrastructure contracts alone to 2024/25. The Trade Commissioner affirmed his desire to build awareness of the scale of the opportunity, and to provide direct support to help increase and grow the UK’s engagement and success in the region.
Jonathan Glennie, author of the book ‘The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment’ shared some thought-provoking perspectives in which argues that aid is an outdated, 20th century concept that is not fit for the century ahead. He suggested that as the world faces greater and more complicated challenges, every country on earth should contribute to a global investment pot which is continually distributed it in an equitable way.
Next week, in addition to our Deep Dive on Ethiopia, we will also host a closed, members roundtable, to Meet with Trade Envoy to Nigeria Helen Grant MP on 27th May. This forms part of our ‘Meet the Trade Envoy’ series events which are open to members only and provide an opportunity to brief Trade Envoys on member experiences and challenges to doing business in the region. Please contact Ingrid to register your interest for this event.
On 25th May, we will be running a joint session with BritCham Indonesia, the Law Society and GovRisk on ‘Doing Business in Indonesia’. With Indonesia being part of the ‘Indo-Pacific Tilt’ announced in the recent Integrated Review of Defence, Security and Foreign Policy, this session will provide valuable and timely insights on the ease of doing business as well as legal and risk considerations for UK businesses interested in the region.
I learnt something new this week — 17 May was Norway’s National Day. Known in the local vernacular as “Syttende mai”, it is by far the biggest street party Norway has all year. Essentially an “eat whatever you want” day, so Ingrid, our Events Manager and a Norwegian, was kind enough to share a ‘kanelstang’ with me and the rest of the team. You never stop learning…
Wishing you all a restful weekend.
With Best Wishes
Chief Executive Officer
British Expertise International
Take advantage of the new Job Board on our website to post your organisation’s vacancies, currently this facility is available for free.
Currently all our events are hosted virtually and look forward to exploring hybrid event options as the government eases socialising restrictions. For any event registration support please contact the events team. Click on titles to access full event details. The full calendar of events can be viewed here and recently added event dates are highlighted with an asterisk*.
25th May — Doing Business in Indonesia
27th May — Ethiopia Deep Dive
8th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassador’ Francophone Africa
9th June — Doing Business in Pakistan
10th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ East Africa
10th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ South-East Europe
15th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ Middle East
15th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ West Africa
15th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ Latin America
16th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ South Asia
16th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ Southern Africa
17th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ South-East Asia
17th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ North Africa
17th June* — ‘Meet the British Ambassadors’ The Caribbean
External News & Events
24th May — The Department for International Trade (DIT) will be hosting a Panel Discussion to about Saudi Arabia’s Private Sector Participation (PSP) Law and upcoming PPP opportunities.
24–28 May 2021 — Bond Annual Conference
The annual Bond Conference is a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of key global trends, get fresh insights from expert speakers, share ideas and connect with development leaders and practitioners around the world. Book one ticket to give your whole organisation access to the full conference programme.
8th June — BSCC will participate in the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce’s business week event on renewables opportunities. Follow this link to read more and register for your place at the business week.
8th June — Join SBJBC in an engaging webinar showcasing: Technology and Digital Cooperation Opportunities at NEOM & THE LINE. Interactive panels will follow on opportunities for innovative UK and Saudi companies to partner on the technology infrastructure required for this visionary project.
9th — 10th June — UK Export Finance will be hosting a Supplier Fair: Agricultural Development in Africa for UK exporters, covering the various sustainable food production projects across Africa.
13th — 16th July — The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will deliver an interactive online course on Spatial Analysis in QGIS and R — An Introduction for Environmental Scientists.
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