Published: 17 January 2024
Welcome to 2024 and Everything That Comes With it!
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Duncan Edwards OBE
Buckle up everyone, it could be a bumpy ride! Two weeks into the new year and we know, one way or another, 2024 is going to be momentous. With three complex and dangerous geo-political situations showing no real signs of coming to a positive conclusion and general elections in the US and (most likely) the UK, businesses will be concerned that the world gets through this year without a major catastrophe.
Perhaps I am naïve, but I start the new year, frankly as I always do, with a sense of optimism which outweighs the concerns I have on these all too real challenges. Although, to be fair, as someone who started earning their living in sales nearly 40 years ago, optimism is hard wired into me as it is with so many other people in business.
I am not for a moment underplaying the seriousness of the challenges and I don’t intend to offer any solutions to the geo-political crises in Ukraine, the Levant and the South China Sea, but I do think the world will somehow muddle through and survive these intact. The economic and business issues including supply chain disruption, energy and other commodity shortages, de-coupling and an increase in various forms of protectionism are all here to stay for the year but none of these on their own or collectively is fatal to the world economy.
And in both the UK and the USA, there are some positive economic signs as we start 2024 that might bring us back to the kind of growth rates (especially in the UK) that we would all like to see.
As to the major elections, at BAB we have no party-political affiliations and will not get involved in assessments of individuals and their suitability for office. We will however take a long look at policies, manifestos and platforms, as and when these are published closer to the elections, to understand the impact they might have on businesses operating in and between the US and the UK. We want to see pro-business policies that encourage investment, employment and growth; we want to see regulation which provides sensible guardrails for consumers and investors but which doesn’t inhibit growth by trying to prevent every conceivable risk; and we want to see policies which keep the cost of doing business in the US and UK at a reasonable level and remove disincentives to trade and investment across the Atlantic.
Throughout the coming year we will bring our members regular insights and updates from political and economic commentators as well as all the usual BAB programming and networking events. There are lots of opportunities to get involved and benefit from the fantastic learning and networking that we provide. Details of our events are updated regularly at www.babinc.org/babevents and I very much hope to see you at one or more of these sessions.
Inevitably it will be a busy year for our public policy team. In December we published an assessment of progress made on commitments in The Atlantic Declaration (here) and we will return to this topic on its one-year anniversary in June. We are also working on a response to the Harrington Review looking at the UK’s competitiveness in attracting inward investment to be issued later this month. We are also working on a review of the trade promotion agreements that the UK has signed with individual US states and will publish a summary and guide to all these agreements in March.
We expect lots of government-led visits going both ways across the Atlantic and will keep members informed when there are opportunities to interact. We know how important it is to have the views of business regularly in front of both the incumbent and potential administrations.
And finally, a year ago I predicted that British or American teams would win at least one, and probably two, of the major world cups available in 2023; well, how wrong was I! But 2024 is an Olympic year and as a newly naturalized US Citizen, my chances of celebrating sporting success have gone up dramatically!
All good wishes