Events

Brexit & the New Geopolitical Order – Moving Forward, Charting the Economic Relationship Between the UK, EU and the US

On Thursday, October 5, 2017, the BABCPHL hosted a Brexit update seminar. Attendees included members of the British, German, Italian and Swedish Chambers of Commerce, the World Trade Center of Delaware, and the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. The event was sponsored by BABCPHL Club Level member, McConnell Johnson Real Estate. Networking and the panel discussion took place in the Atrium at the iconic Wilmington landmark building – Hercules Plaza.

Emanuel Adam, Director of Policy & Trade, BritishAmerican Business, who is based in the London office, joined the BABCPHL in Wilmington to moderate the Brexit discussion. Emanuel develops and executes the BritishAmerican Business’ policy advocacy and trade and investment portfolio for British American Business Council (BABC) chapters throughout the world, representing 2000 member companies in the US and the UK. His current key engagements include Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU and, in this context, the future trade and investment relationship between the UK and the US. He regularly publishes articles, and represents the network and its members in the media. Emanuel was the perfect moderator to lead the more than 50 global professionals who participated in the BABCPHL Brexit seminar through this timely discussion. He commented about the historic relationship between the UK and the US. The countries are each other’s strongest allies, and both the UK and the US are champions of free trade. Emanuel mentioned the UK is committed to addressing global challenges and its willingness to build on the foundations established within a successful EU. He spoke on behalf of the BABC network, and said we will continue to advocate for an outcome that best serves the UK, US, and the EU economies, its citizens, and our businesses, many which operate daily across borders. As companies continue to assess the impact of Brexit to the UK’s attractiveness as a destination for business and investment, it is crucial that parties continue to engage in a constructive and on-going dialogue with the business community, and deliver the best possible Brexit outcome available.

After providing a brief summary of the topic, Emanuel introduced the first speaker – Freya Jackson, Counsellor and Head of the Global and Economic Policy Group at the British Embassy. Freya joined the Embassy team in July 2016. She leads the Embassy’s teams covering a wide range of issues including trade, investment and economic policy, environment and energy, transport and science, research and innovation. Prior to this role, Freya led the Foreign Policy Team in the National Security Secretariat of the UK’s Cabinet Office (NSC equivalent). Before that, she was the Senior Foreign Policy Adviser during the UK’s Presidency of the G8 in 2012. From 2007 to 2011, Freya led the Climate Change and Global Economy negotiating team in the UK’s Mission to the United Nations in New York. Prior to that, Freya worked as the Head of Nuclear & Missile Defense Team for the Security Policy Department, and at various assignments with the FCO across the globe including Buenos Aires, Casablanca, and Mumbai.

Freya spoke about how Brexit came to be, and what potential scenarios lay ahead with respect to negotiated trade deals and the “new world order” the Brexit will create. She commented on Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence, delivered on September 22, 2017, and explained the UK will seek to establish a transition period of implementation after Brexit. This period will minimize disruption to business during an agreed upon time frame, therefore avoiding a “cliff-edge” scenario. This arrangement will be crucial to our community, and includes major American investors and leading British firms. Freya talked about how we ended up where we are now; touched upon Article 50 being triggered; and mentioned that four rounds of negotiations with the EU have already been completed. Currently the UK is determining how they are going carry out the Brexit. “A few things are clear – the UK plans to: (1) take care of their citizens; (2) protect the Belfast Agreement; (3) protect the rights of EU citizens; and (4) budget – the UK is expected to pay their way.” Freya carefully explained there are two sides of the equation – the economic side and the societal side. Regulatory standards are high, and custom built dispute regulations will need to be established. From a security standpoint, the UK doesn’t want anything to change; the UK would like to continue to support freedom of movement, and access to global markets.

Andrea Montanino, the C. Boyden Gray Fellow on Global Growth and Finance, and the Director of Global Business & Economics Program at the Atlantic Council focused on the transition from multilateral to bilateral trade agreements; geopolitical issues; and what all of this will mean for labor and trade. Andrea leads the Council’s work on global trade, growth, and finance. He formerly acted as executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), representing the governments of Italy, Albania, Greece, Malta, Portugal, and San Marino. Before joining the IMF, he was a career officer in the Italian Ministry of Finance from 2006 to 2012. As director general at the Treasury Department, he worked extensively to alleviate the impact of the great recession on the business sector, drafting and implementing a number of laws. He also spent four years (2001-2005) at the European Commission in the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs. During those years, he worked on the reform of the EU budgetary rules and was responsible for the long-term sustainability analysis of European countries.

Andrea’s expertise perfectly positioned him to explain how looking at what happened with Greece and the “Grexit” is an important example of how to proceed. The world should take away four lessons learned from the Greece experience: (1) Brexit is a very complicated matter and leaders need to be creative and imaginative to solve the problem; (2) due to the complex nature of the situation, sufficient time is required for a positive outcome; (3) both sides need trust and confidence in the other party; and (4) strong political leadership is key.

After Andrea’s comments about the best case scenario of how to proceed with Brexit, Howard Kass, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for American Airlines, who oversees American’s regulatory compliance, policy development, corporate security and international affairs and works closely with regulatory authorities in Washington, D.C., and around the world, spoke about how Brexit will impact business, specifically the aviation sector. Howard joined US Airways in 2003 as a director and associate general counsel and most recently was vice president, legal and government affairs for the Airline. Before joining US Airways, Howard worked for the Transportation Security Administration, where he held deputy director and director positions. Prior to the TSA, he was a senior associate with the management consulting firm Booz, Allen, Hamilton in McLean, Virginia. He was also a consultant with GKMG Consulting Services where he advised airport and transportation industry clients on Department of Transportation and FAA regulations. During Howard’s presentation he explained how the aviation industry will be affected by Brexit.

Howard focused his discussion on what needs to happen for a smooth transition to ensure minimal disruption to supply chains, transport of people and goods, and global regulations. He explained the interesting challenges Brexit poses, especially for the airline industry, in which travel plans are made at least one year in advance. Aviation is extremely engaged in Brexit discussions. Separate agreements between the UK and US and the UK and the EU will need to be negotiated to ensure people and goods can continue to fly across borders. Brexit poses both political and philosophical challenges.

Currently there is still a great deal of uncertainty. Brexit is unchartered territory, and the UK exit from the EU is forcing the world to rethink future global relationships. Europe will be redefined, and leaders will need to focus on the important relationships between trade groups and companies of all sizes, including a special focus on small and medium sized enterprises. Despite the current ambiguity of the situation, attendees were actively engaged in the seminar, and asked a series of questions after the panelists’ presentations. As Brexit continues to evolve, it is clear that creativity, time, trust, and strong leadership are the way forward.

The BABCPHL extends special thanks to event sponsors without whom this program would not have been possible: 1313 Innovation, American Airlines, Atlantic Council, and McConnell Johnson Real Estate.

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The BABCPHL recognizes our Club Level Members:

  • American Airlines
  • Bartlett
  • Cigna
  • Deloitte
  • Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
  • Duane Morris
  • Ernst & Young
  • HSBC
  • KPMG
  • McConnell Johnson Real Estate
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Law Firm of Pepper Hamilton
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • TD Bank
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic