Air Travel is back!…well, partly.

Notes from the CEO – July 2021

DE - Cirlce

Duncan Edwards
Chief Executive Officer
BritishAmerican Business

As BritishAmerican Business heads for a summer break in our programming calendar, which coincides with the end of our financial year, it is a good time to reflect on some of the big issues that we have been focused on in recent months and some of the themes for our programming in the fall. 

The biggest issue by far for our members in recent months has been the continued restrictions on travel between the U.S. and the UK for the majority of businesspeople. It is therefore terrific news that, from Aug 2nd, the UK will open up quarantine free travel to the UK for doubly vaccinated British expats living in the U.S. and for U.S. citizens too. We have strongly encouraged the UK government to take this step even if it is not reciprocated by the U.S. which continues to keep the border closed to non-citizens who have been in the UK, regardless of vaccination status. Businesspeople want to travel, to see their customers, suppliers and colleagues and there is already a huge demand for flights; mine is booked and I will be in London next week!

The U.S. government position is hard to justify but perhaps easier to understand. It seems to have nothing to do with the incremental risk posed by vaccinated travelers from the UK (and EU) and everything to do with concern about public opinion and probable media criticism… essentially the same issues that caused the UK to delay its decision for the last two months.  Either way, this is a step in the right direction, and we will keep asking the U.S. government to make the change. 

Beyond the travel related frustrations, it now seems clear that ambitions for a full, comprehensive trade agreement between the UK and U.S. need to be re-calibrated. The domestic political agenda in the States, the imminent expiration of the TPA and a desire to use the country’s trade clout to drive an agenda in sustainability and labor rights means the likelihood of an agreement in the short to medium term has gone.  We draw two broad conclusions from this: first, trade and investment between the U.S. and UK remains exceptionally strong; an FTA would help by reducing costs and making life easier, but with only one or two exceptions, there is nothing stopping business happening between these two great trading nations for the companies that want it. Second, and crucially, there should be no reason why some of the most pressing issues can’t be addressed without an FTA; even if tariff elimination may not be possible there is no reason why the two governments can’t work together on data transfer, digital trade, IP protection, mutual recognition of qualifications, customs facilitation and help for SMEs to pick just a few. Not as glamorous as an FTA but this work would be highly valuable to the Transatlantic business community. 

Our own priorities in content and programming are decided by what we hear from you, our members, and our autumn slate of events should have something for everyone. We will run our Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability Series up to and though Cop 26, our Transatlantic Finance Forum will return with a series of discussions for the FS community, The Stir will look at the changing nature of workplace culture and progress made in D&I, we have a series looking at how to solve the U.S. Infrastructure deficit and our Accelerate program will hear from SMEs and entrepreneurs building their businesses across the Atlantic. All of this, together with our usual events with CEOs, government officials and policy experts, means that whatever your area of interest there will be something for you.

Just to finish, this has clearly been an unusual and challenging period for so many people and organizations like BAB have by no means been immune. I am pleased to say we have got through this time in good shape thanks to the support of our members, the hard work of a terrific team here at BAB and the advice and counsel from our Board and Advisory Board. Thanks to all, have a great August and see you at a BAB event (maybe even in person!) in September.