Why the UK Government needs the BCCJ!

Oct. 20, 2014


Today, BCCJ members and guests heard from two speakers about future of UK business in Japan from two key angles. Firstly - important upcoming changes in support for UK business in Japan; secondly - lessons learned from London 2012 to help British and Japanese companies prepare for Tokyo 2020.

The UK government has launched a new initiative to boost British exports. BCCJ members and indeed UK exporters across all industries have a unique chance to shape this new approach in Japan.

The Government aims to double exports to GBP1 trillion and increase the number of exporters to 100,000 by 2020. To do this it is enlisting British Chambers of Commerce overseas, including the BCCJ. The Overseas Business Networks Initiative (OBNI), in which the BCCJ is actively involved, working closely alongside UKTI, will see Chambers, Government and Business work together in new and innovative ways.

These changes will have an impact across all industry sectors, not only manufacturing.

Elsewhere in Asia, British Chamber members are already seeing new business opportunities arising.

John Longworth, is the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce in the UK - a nationwide network of 52 local accredited Chambers of Commerce, serving tens of thousands of business members across the UK, and which styles itself the "national voice of local business."

He explained the vision and the practical implications of the OBNI project, and asked for audience views on the opportunities in Japan for UK exporters, the barriers they might face, and the help they need.

Our second speaker, Peter Bishop, Deputy Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, helped attendees look towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Tokyo 2020. Conversations around how to boost UK trade with Japan must surely keep these milestones in mind.

During the London 2012 procurement process - when contracts totalling GBP9 billion were up for grabs - the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry was called upon to manage the information flow between business and Games organisers. Peter explained how the process worked, including liaising with LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority. He also explained how to use what was learned in London to prepare for 2020.

Graham Davis, BCCJ Executive Commitee member said: "this was an important opportunity to get export support right ahead of 2020".

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More about the speakers

John originally trained as a scientist. Over the course of his career, he has served as an Executive Main Board Director of Asda Group Ltd and Asda Financial Services Ltd, and held senior director positions at Tesco Stores Ltd and the CWS Ltd.

His public roles have included the board of a Healthcare Trust and the British Retail Consortium. He was economic spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry, Chairman of its Distributive Trades Panel and Chairman of the Brussels based CIES International Product Standards and Trade Body.

A former Health and Safety Commissioner and Chairman of the HSE Audit Committee, John also sat on the original Deregulation Task Force. He assisted a leading Healthcare Trust to establish a commercial and marketing operation, and currently has a portfolio career as chair and founder of a venture capital-backed science and professional services business, SVA Ltd; non-executive director at the Co-operative Group Food Ltd; non-executive director of Nichols plc; and trustee of the social enterprise P3.

About the BCC: http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/about-the-bcc/

John was visiting Japan in October 2014 to attend World Chambers Federation Council meeting and take the opportunity to speak with the British Ambassador and British Chambers of Commerce in Japan. 

Peter Bishop is Deputy Chief Executive at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce/World Chambers Federation ATA Carnet Council and ATA Administrative Committee.

At the London Chamber of Commerce he is responsible for its international trade activities including Enterprise Europe Network office, export documents and international trade events and missions.  In a typical year the London Chamber issues over 130,000 export and import documents, answers 5,000 trade enquiries, and organises 40 export seminars and trade missions.  He also has responsibility for the Chamber’s Chinese and India business associations and information service and is the editor of London Business Matters magazine.

Peter has been the elected Chairman of the World ATA Carnet Council and ATA Carnet Committee since 2004 and chairs the work of these groups to manage and develop the temporary import and export regime for professional equipment, samples and goods for trade fairs and exhibitions in 73 countries worldwide.

He holds an MSc in International Business from London University and is a writer and consultant on the mechanics of international trade including procedures and regulations.  His books include the Export Handbook and the International Trade Manual (co-author).

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BCCJ Acumen article

Members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) can have a positive influence on helping the UK government reach its export targets by providing support to British firms trying to enter the market here.

Speaking at a BCCJ luncheon on 20 October, John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCCJ), said members were the perfect solution to helping British businesses export to Japan.

Longworth pointed to three main factors that make members a real asset to UK firms: their knowledge and experience of the market; contacts in both the supply chain and potential customer base; and ability to find professional help when required.

“There are no better people to help UK businesses than those sitting round the boardroom tables of the chambers of commerce”, he said.

According to Longworth, no one understands trade better than chambers; hence the BCC’s involvement in a scheme to boost British exports: the Overseas Business Network initiative (OBNi).

Initially a pilot project developed in partnership with UK Trade & Investment and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, it was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012.

Having received political and financial support following its initial success, OBNi is now a mainstream part of government. It is delivering on targets to double the UK’s annual exports to £1trn and increase the number of UK exporters to 100,000 by 2020.

Central to the project is the cooperation of British business groups around the world with the government, to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK in their bid to do business globally in high-growth, hard-to-access markets—of which Japan is considered one.

To encourage exports, the initiative offers market information, support and advice, intelligence on new business opportunities and a global business network.

Another factor that has undoubtedly changed the business landscape in the UK is London 2012, according to fellow speaker Peter Bishop, deputy chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Bishop said the influence of the Games was very real, with their economic impact in 2012–2020 estimated at between £38bn and £60bn.

While the regeneration of East London and establishment of Sports 4 All—an organisation offering visits by Olympic and professional athletes to schools across the UK to promote physical activity—are some of the Games’ more apparent successes, the development of the trade and investment agenda is an important legacy of London 2012.

“We are making sure that all those businesses that were involved in London 2012—either in front of, or behind the scenes are able to take their story round the world to other markets where things of a similar or smaller size are happening”, said Bishop.

To date, firms have spent a considerable amount of time in Brazil in connection with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Bishop said he has no doubt the chamber will be helping British firms work in Japan, too.

Historic pact
Aiming to deepen its relationships with Japanese organisations and firms to secure business openings for UK firms in connection with the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, the BCCJ signed an agreement to join OBNi on 27 October.

The ceremony was witnessed by invited members of the BCCJ, representatives of Japanese business, including from the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston.

UKTI will initially provide seed funding, with the initiative ultimately becoming self-sustaining.

Speaking at the signing, Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens CMG LVO said the BCCJ is “a highly effective partner”.

“This agreement will allow [the British Embassy Tokyo and the BCCJ] to intensify our collaboration and leverage of London 2012. I am convinced it will ensure that we maximise the opportunities for British business as Japan prepares for its own major sporting events”, he concluded.

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BCCJ Events calendar HERE