CEO Update

Published: 8 September 2023

'Barbenheimer' Shows the Power of the US-UK Partnership in Action.

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Duncan Edwards
BritishAmerican Business

As someone who likes to keep on top of what’s going on in popular culture, I loved the concept of Barbenheimer; we didn’t try to watch both films on opening day, but we did go to see them on consecutive Saturday nights in the local non-profit movie house in north west CT where we live.  You will have your own views as to the artistic merit of each film but both are fantastic examples of Transatlantic co-operation. Oppenheimer’s theme of course, if rather tangentially, is perhaps the greatest historic moment of such collaboration, but more prosaically, half the on-screen talent are Brits and the director, a dual citizen. And Barbie, that most American of icons, was made almost entirely in my home town of Watford, where British off screen talent has built a globally brilliant reputation.

In the creative industries, the US-UK partnership is a crucial, value creating reality for hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of workers and this same partnership can be found in many other industries from Life Sciences to Defense to Gaming and Tech and is fundamental to both the financial and professional services businesses.  As BAB has been preparing this summer for the launch of our annual Policy Agenda, the document that sets out the public policy issues that our members are asking us to work on in the coming year, this concept of a true economic partnership has been central to our thinking.  The more we researched the topics and talked to our members, the more we found cautious, but genuine optimism about the state of the US-UK economic and business partnership and the more excitement there is about the potential for greater co-operation.  Both governments seemed to recognize this when PM Sunak and Pres. Biden signed the Atlantic Declaration earlier this summer and we have taken many of the themes from the Declaration and woven them into our Policy Agenda which will be available on our website on September 12th.

We recognize that the traditional trade agreements that reduce tariffs, improve market access and make goods and services cheaper for consumers are off the table for the US administration for now at least, although we will continue to make the case whenever we can.  But the concepts included in the Declaration have the potential to be truly beneficial and valuable to both countries if the ambitions can be turned into reality.  We will be doing all we can to support this process but with elections in both countries next year I am not hugely optimistic about how much will get done.  You can feel the election heat rising in both countries and it will be hard to get political attention on these important issues and whether the Declaration survives what could be changes in government in both countries is impossible to say. 

The news this week that the Office for National Statistics underestimated UK GDP growth consistently over the last few years is shocking but not surprising.  It seems that every economic forecaster makes the same error and it is important to question why this institutional bias exists.  On the one hand you could say that the correct numbers eventually get published but by then the narrative has been set.  in this most recent case, the old, incorrect data stated that the UK had the slowest growth in Europe since the pandemic and the new, corrected data shows that in fact, the UK has recovered more strongly than any other major economy…the precise opposite of the previous story.

Policy briefings and engagement on issues with real impact for businesses will be a core part of our programming between now and the end of 2023 but there is a lot more for members to get involved with.  You can see the highlights of our event program on our website here and get in touch with your BAB contact if there are things you would like to join.  I will be in New York, Washington and London during September and hope to see many of you along the way.