Memorandum from the British American Business
Council and BritishAmerican Business Inc.
1. The British American Business Council
(BABC) and BritishAmerican Business Inc. of New York and London
(BABi) are the two leading transatlantic business organizations,
and represent a major resource for British companies looking to
build their business in North America as well as an important
partner for the British Government.
2. The BABC has 32 chapters and 4,000 UK/US
member companies based in major cities throughout the US and UK.
BABi, the largest chapter of the BABC and its Secretariat, has
more than 1,000 member companies in New York and London.
3. Both organizations are dedicated to the
promotion of UK/US trade and investment and to helping their British
and US member companies build their transatlantic business.
4. They represent a key resource for British
companies, in that they offer:
A ready-made, high-quality business
network of potential customers, suppliers and business partners
in the United States:
Expert, local sources of advice and
counsel, and a broad range of tailored marketing vehicles and
opportunities, to help British companies build their business;
Broad-based business, social and
support network of advisors, friends, colleagues and potential
Resource of current and potential
investors in the UK economy and partners with British business;
Good access to US business organizations
and national/state/local development agencies.
5. The BABC was established in 1995. BABi
was established in the fall of 2001, as a result of the merger
of the British American Chamber of Commerce (New York/London)
and the American Chamber of Commerce (UK).
6. Particularly because of their bilateral
character. BABC/BABi also provide a useful interface between business
and government and have undertaken a number of policy initiatives
to promote transatlantic and global trade and investment.
7. Many senior government Ministers have
expressed strong support for the BABC/BABi: for example, Chancellor
of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, hosted the launch event for BABi
in 2000 at No 11 Downing Street, in the presence of both the UK
and US Ambassadors and business leaders.
8. Our services to British business as well
as our close partnership with government, may have been referenced
in the submissions of government departments to the Committee.
9. The United States is by far the most
business partner of the UK and British business. Given the tragic
events of September 11, in New York, Washington and Pittsburgh,
this partnership is of greater significance than ever.
10. For many years, this was not reflected
in HMG's commercial presence in the USA, because it was apparently
and erroneously believed that the USA was an easy place for British
companies to do business. In fact, it is a huge, complex, challenging
and intensely competitive market, which requires the commercial
offices of governmentas well as companiesto have
a high degree of sophistication and determination if they are
to enjoy any degree of success.
11. In recent years, the quality and expertise
of the UK's commercial representation has significantly improved.
It is critical that HMG should continue:
To appoint top-quality people from
the UK to run HMG's consulates and commercial offices (the role
of Director-General of UK Trade and Investment, based in New York,
is key to this, and it is critical that the new, high standards
established by the current incumbent be maintained).
Continue to improve the quality of
the sector specialists and locally-engaged staff that it deploys
in its trade/investment offices.
Continue to expand its provision
of online support to business.
12. The BABC/BABi and their chapters have
a good working relationship with HMG's commercial offices throughout
the United States, and enjoy the support of Consuls General and
their staff on a personal and professional basis as well as the
British Ambassador and his staff in Washington.
13. But the UK, and British companies, would
benefit from an expansion and refinement of this relationship,
and of the somewhat less-developed relationship between the BABC/BABi
and national/regional government/development agencies in the UK.
14. Our 24 US chapters offer British companies
an unrivalled transatlantic business network in the USA. Our eight
chapters in the UK offers similar access to a network of US (as
well as UK) companies in the UK, conducting transatlantic business.
This is a competitive advantage of which the UK does not take
15. Through a more concerted effort to refer
British companies to the relevant BABC chapters and to promote
the services available through the BABC/BABi to British companies,
government/development agencies in the UK and commercial offices
in the USA could provide additional business assistance to British
companies looking to expand their business in the USA, at no cost
16. This referral effort could be sustained
through the normal course of business (eg. in response to business
inquiries to government/development agencies in the UK). It could
also be actively promoted, to the benefit of British companies,
by more actively involving the BABC/BABi in existing government
initiatives (such as Export USA, seminars/conferences, etc) run
by these agencies in the UK and USA.
17. The relevant government agencies might
also consider, on a selective basis, assisting British companies
with the very modest costs of joining this transatlantic business
network, as one element in their tailored, business-promotion
packages (such as Export USA).
18. While the main focus of the BABC/BABi's
efforts is on helping their member companies build their business,
both organisations also work closely with the agencies and commercial
offices of the British Government to promote the government's
objectives (by, for example, providing high-quality platforms
for senior Ministers and officials, promoting government policy
statements through our online and hard-copy publications, etc).
In addition, we support the government's commercial objectives
in the United States through the assistance we provide to our
2,000 British member companies.
19. Unlike many other bilateral chambers
of commerce operating in the United States, we do not seek or
expect any direct subsidy from government.
20. But we would welcome a resumption of
the modest level of support that the government until recently
provided by taking up certain commercial services that we offer
(such as sponsorship of our magazine, UK&USA), in recognition
of our support for British business and our partnership with government.
21. The major recent reduction in this support
has increased the financial challenges that we face in seeking
to promote British commercial interests and transatlantic business,
and was regrettably seen by some of our member companies as indicating
as a withdrawal of government support for and interest in our
22. Finally, on the policy front, while
the UK generally provides a very encouraging legislative business
framework, there are certain steps (relating, for example, to
taxes on stock options) that HMG could usefully take, which would
help to promote the UK's commercial interests in the United States.
These issues would, however, require a longer treatment than provided
for in this memorandum.
23. In terms of the UK's national interest,
it is of critical importance that the government continues to
further enhance the quality of its commercial representation in
the United States.
24. The BABC/BABi is keen to further enhance
its partnership with government, in order to further our shared
the promotion of British commercial
interests in the United States and the provision of effective
assistance to British companies looking to build their business
the development of a favourable transatlantic
and global policy environment for British companies;
the expansion of UK/US investment
flows, and of partnerships between US and UK companies;
the further enhancement of the broad
The British American Business Council and British
American Business inc.