BVEP - Business Visits and Events Partnership

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A Legacy to Trade On?

By Simon Hughes, Vice Chair BVEP

The merry band of fans that await these blogs with bated breath can breathe easy. I’m at it again, as requested by the webmeisters that control the ebb and flow of the essential information, best practice and regular updates supplied by the BVEP. This time around it’s to support the work we’ve been doing to get our partners focussed on the recent Green Paper on Industrial Strategy. If you’ve not spotted it there is a consultation in process that is inviting industries and sectors to respond to the opportunity of establishing sector deals to support the new global trading position UK plc finds itself forging, as the clock ticks down to our exit from the European Union.

I must confess I’m still a little confused (if not dazed) by the whole process. It now appears that some European nations are suggesting trade negotiations should not form part of the mandate for our exit negotiations. They think there are bigger issues to be dealt with first – including thorny ones such as the question of money. How much will the divorce cost us? Are we allowed to say divorce anymore? I caught someone from the Commission the other day explaining that the issue of rights for EU citizens resident in the UK would be treated by grandfathering them. I have absolutely no idea what that means, but it sounded better than divorcing them. Some of my best friends are foreigners. Some even live in Scotland. How confusing.

Nonetheless please do look out for the concise and pithy paper that the BVEP has circulated to all partners for consideration about the Industrial Strategy (please click

to download the paper). In full facilitation mode the BVEP really wants to hear what the collective wisdom of our partner members is on this matter. There is an opportunity here that warrants serious discussion and thought, so I do hope that you have the chance to participate in the debate. I look forward to writing another blog once we’ve seen the responses. There is no doubt that creating opportunities for our sector to benefit from increased exposure to international trade activity, both inward and outward bound, has to be a good thing. Which brings me to the legacy bit of this blog.

My wonderful father was a passionate internationalist; an outlook born from his two year stint at the Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania where he completed an MBA when no-one knew what an MBA was. Hard to believe now I know, but when we came back to England we use to host the European MBA Association annual dinner at our house. There were only three members back then, so it was always a small but lively affair for the first few years. His decision to pack up his young family and head for Philadelphia to study for a qualification that in those days was pretty much unknown was driven partly by a dread of remaining a chartered accountant doing audits for the rest of his career but mainly by his incredible sense of adventure. He loved meeting new people and trying out new things.

His two year stint at Wharton certainly fulfilled that and he created some lifelong friendships amongst the polyglot student body that he encountered. To support us he lectured in accountancy and on Saturdays worked in a furniture store in South Philly as a bookkeeper. His biggest claim to fame was that when he was covering a lunch break for one of the regular salesmen he sold a bed to Chubby Checker, then the King of the Twist. It was a very big bed, but as he pointed out Chubby Checker was a very, very big man. However on that legacy point we have recently had to change his claim to fame.

One of our American friends has just spotted that another alumnus from Wharton School at that time has recently been making the news for his views on international trade and international visitors. Bearing in mind that the student body at Wharton back then really was like a microcosm of the United Nations, it is somewhat surprising that an economic graduate from Wharton called Donald J Trump should now be quite as hostile to the benefits that overseas visitors bring the USA. We are now trying to ascertain if bumping into a penny strapped young English guest lecturer on basic accountancy might have in anyway informed his subsequent world view. The most likely outcome to date is that he got flunked on his double entry book keeping unit and subsequently decided that this was fake news. After all stranger things have happened. Like the UK event industry agreeing what it does. But that is a story for another day.