I am happy to be sending you what is the first in a regular series of short quarterly updates on the work of BritishAmerican Business which I hope you will find helpful.

Policy work

Our fundamental purpose as a non-aligned, transatlantic trade association is to support policies and actions that are designed to protect and enhance the environment for trade and investment between the UK and the USA.  Early this year we published our 2018 Policy Agenda which identifies the ten subjects that we will be focusing on in our discussions with the relevant government departments in Washington and Whitehall.  We will not, and cannot, attempt to replicate the detail and depth of vertical trade associations but instead will focus on horizontal issues that impact all our members and the wider transatlantic business community.  There are some obvious topics here: the future of the UK-EU relationship, the future of the UK-USA relationship, the importance of protecting labour mobility, the challenges of multiple regulatory environments for data, and much more.  We have talked with the US Commerce Department and with the UK’s Department for International Trade in addition to the many policy teams in our membership and will be increasing our work in this area.

As an organization that believes in the power of trade to create wealth and jobs and raise living standards globally, we are dismayed by the real and potential increase in protectionist policies, especially coming from the US administration. But we also recognize that pressure in this area has been building for years. Like it or not, there has been a systemic failure by the rules-based order to deal with imbalances in policies, protectionism masquerading as regulation, tariffs, and other root causes of resentment and we are now seeing the consequences.  We hope that the US administration will at least try to pursue cases through the WTO alongside its newly implemented tariffs and regulations against China… We shall see!

Trade promotion

We are pleased to be a partner of the UK Department for International Trade on several projects; in January we held a joint event in Washington to launch ‘Across the Pond,’ a showcase of British companies that have made a success in building businesses in the USA.  This was the follow-up to our product, identifying US companies that have built business in the UK, published in 2017.

We held the inaugural Transatlantic Growth Awards in London on March 15th in association with Barclays, identifying and awarding ten SME companies from both sides of the Atlantic for the success of their growth efforts… We know that the successful small companies of today become the giants of tomorrow and are delighted to be helping.

Events and programming

In the first quarter we held more than 20 events in London and New York for our members ranging from seminars on the impact of the US Tax reform Bill and workshops on labor mobility, to a fascinating small dinner for senior executive sponsors of diversity and inclusion programs from our member companies, brilliantly chaired by Dame Vivian Hunt and Michael Cole-Fontayn.  This event was part of The Stir, a series running throughout this year in London and New York looking at the diversity and inclusion agenda and providing practical advice to our members.

In New York we hosted Joäo Vale de Almeida, the EU Ambassador to the UN, for a talk at KPMG in January and Dr. Liam Fox, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade, and a vocal Brexit optimist, for a briefing session at Thomson Reuters; as you can imagine they each had a different take on the current state of the EU-UK negotiations and the future relationship.  On the subject of Brexit (which inevitably seems to be where conversations end up wherever they start), we find our members mainly disappointed but pragmatic.  There are huge areas of uncertainty about the future regulatory environment – industry by industry. Not deterred, our members are getting on with the practical tasks (in as much as they can) and we find most US companies want to keep as much of their operations and people in the UK as they can.  In private at least, we continue to hear great optimism about the UK and US as markets, places to employ people and build businesses!

Please let me know if you have ideas or comments about BAB and we are always looking for introductions to new members… And the best advocates for us are you!

Duncan Edwards