FCO Public Diplomacy: The Olympics

OLY 04

Supplementary written evidence from Mr Jeremy Browne MP

Thank you for the invitation to give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee on the FCO’s work around the London Olympics on 10 November. I am pleased that the Committee is interested in this aspect of our work and am writing to provide information on areas of activity where you said you would like more detail.


The Foreign Secretary explained in a speech to business leaders at the City Week Conference on Monday 20 September that "the Foreign and Commonwealth Office … will place a greater emphasis on supporting business and commercial diplomacy internationally. ... Our Embassies will be more focussed going forward on working to achieve demonstrable benefits for British business and the British economy. We are serious and ambitious about our business engagement with the rest of the world and about enabling business to thrive in the UK. We know that this is where the future lies."

Trade and commercial opportunities will be a major focus for all of our Posts in the run up to 2012 and beyond.

Responsibility for international marketing of the UK’s capability and economy lies with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). They, in close partnership with BIS and the FCO, are working to deliver a strong economic legacy from the UK’s hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Key activity already underway includes:

· Host2Host. A flagship programme developed to forge relationships with other nations hosting major events before and after London 2012. The purpose is to showcase UK expertise to our partner hosts in delivering major projects on time and on budget. The scope of opportunity is vast, with countries such as Russia and Brazil estimating approximately £90bn spends on Olympic and related infrastructure projects. The Host2Host programme provides a conduit for UK companies to international buyers, influencers and event organisers/procurement officials with the goal of increasing economic legacy from the respective events each country is hosting. So far UKTI has signed MOUs with Singapore (Youth Olympics 2010); South Africa (Hosts of 2010 World Cup); Russia (Hosts of Sochi Winter Olympics 2014) and Brazil (Hosts of 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic Games).

· Directly showcasing UK capability in delivering major events, through bid consultancy, design, architecture, construction, fit-out and ticketing solutions. UKTI is working with regional organisations to produce a ‘Supplier Directory’ of UK expertise in these areas. It will be launched at SportAccord in April 2011 – a conference attended by IOC officials, Host and Bidding Cities/Nations. The Directory will be supplied to Posts around the world.

· The international interest shown in direct 2012 contract opportunities (through CompeteFor – the on-line procurement mechanism for London 2012 supply chains) is being converted into foreign direct investment. Posts around the world are in contact with international companies bidding for 2012 contracts, encouraging them to partner with UK companies or to look at setting up a base in the UK.

· The hosting of Pre-Games Training Camps prior to the 2012 Games is an opportunity to highlight regional investment opportunities and develop trade links with the country based in each camp. Recently UKTI’s East Midlands team (in conjunction with the British Embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese Embassy in London) held ‘Japan Day’ at Loughborough University, where the Japanese Team will be based. The event was designed to exploit the trade relationship between the UK and Japan. It has proved a successful model of best practice which UKTI and the FCO are encouraging our network to adopt as more training camps are announced. Our Post in Tokyo also hosted a trade delegation from the Loughborough region in July as part of their work to mark two years to London 2012.

· The Olympic Games is not only the greatest sporting event but also the biggest corporate networking event in the world. To take best advantage of this opportunity plans are being developed for "The British Business Embassy" during Games time. The Embassy will provide a prestigious and cohesively branded platform to promote UK business. There will be a series of sector events – including the annual Global Investment Conference – designed to promote UK capability and attract high value inward investment, generating 300 investment leads and involving outreach to over 3,000 UK companies. We are developing a digital exhibition of UK innovation, along with plans for a physical exhibition of UK excellence in engineering and manufacture. The Embassy itself will become a legacy project; we plan to set it up at future global events such as Sochi 2014, the Brazil World Cup 2014 and the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Mark Prisk has indicated that he would also be very happy to discuss these and other plans with the Committee if you wish.

I attach a brief note which sets out FCO plans as they stand to engage in the run up to London 2012, and a grid highlighting some examples of events, including proposals with a commercial focus planned in our priority countries. This grid will be further updated and expanded over the coming weeks. We will be very happy to share the final version with you.


Frank Roy asked if there had been a change of emphasis on the green agenda under the new Government, and whether we had scaled down plans to use London 2012 to highlight green issues. I can reassure the Committee that this is not the case. We are very proud that British expertise has made 2012 what will undoubtedly be the greenest Olympics ever. We discussed during the evidence session the ‘Going for Green’ film. It will be shown worldwide to an audience which may be as high as 300 million. Our grid of planned activity at Posts includes a number of events aimed at making use of this film. I will launch it this week when I visit Mexico.

The film not only describes the incredible work already completed, but points to what is still to come. For example, it tells the story of how after Games time the Park will be the largest new area of urban parkland in Europe for one hundred years, and it highlights plans to convert athlete accommodation to affordable housing.

Our ‘See Britain’ short films, currently being promoted on the web and shown at our Posts around the world have a significant ‘green’ element. One already released features Brazilian architect Lucelia Rodrigues, who talks passionately about sustainable building practices in the UK; while another has South African environmental campaigner Polly Courtice describing the UK as at the forefront of action to combat climate change. Our Posts are also lobbying hard for a successful outcome at Cancun and regularly promote green issues at their events and receptions. Again, I will be doing this myself in Mexico this week.

I look forward to continued close contact with you as the excitement and opportunity of the Games draw closer.

23 November 2010