UK and US companies must work together to face up to the challenges being brought by trade tariffs and other threats, the head of the British American Business Council (BABC) told transatlantic business leaders last night.
Steve Allen, president of the BABC, was speaking at a reception at Birmingham Cathedral to mark the start of the organisation’s three-day annual transatlantic conference in Birmingham.
The Birmingham lawyer, who is head of the Birmingham office of law firm Mills & Reeve, said the conference today (Thursday, June 7) “promised to bring important conversations together”.
He added: “They include how we move forward against the background of the uncertain terrain of trade tariffs, the challenges that will be brought and how we work together to face other potential threats – or opportunities – such as those presented by digital trade, cyber relations, design-driven innovation and more.”
Mr Allen said Birmingham was “powered by youth, ambition and an unrelenting sense of innovation and purpose”.
He told 300 delegates from the UK, US and Canada: “We are proud of our diverse and multi-cultural city, a city that is breaking through from being a national centre of industry to a global city known for revolutionising a range of sectors from advances in manufacturing to gaming and creative to energy and tech and healthcare.”
Outlining developments in the city, Mr Allen said: “We are creating places for the future – look to any corner of the city and there are cranes in the sky, with large-scale projects such as the £700 million mixed-use Paradise development now coming to fruition and a true indicator of investor confidence.
“We are also building on our already unrivalled connectivity and shrinking the gap between Birmingham and London to just 45 minutes through the arrival of the HS2 rail network.
“With the establishment of the West Midlands Combined Authority, work is underway to create 215,000 more homes and 500,000 more jobs by 2030.”
He added: “Birmingham’s growing economic productivity and prowess is unmatched in the UK – we are now a global city at the forefront of creative arts recognised by both the New York Times and the Boston Globe as one of the most exciting cities to visit in Europe.”
Earlier, legal and financial professionals from the UK and US discussed a number of key transatlantic topics as part of the BABC conference.
The event at Browne Jacobson’s offices in Victoria House included a series of talks which focused on wide issues, including data protection, immigration and international trade treaties all focusing on the Trump administration and Brexit.
Delegates heard a number of UK and US legal experts, including James Turner, president of the Birmingham Law Society, Brett Bacon, partner at Frantz Ward LLP and Elaine Kumpula and Claire Nilson, partner and counsel at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.
The Faegre Baker Daniels representatives stressed the importance of understanding travel restrictions under the Trump administration.
Ms Nilson said: “The reason we’re concentrating on business travel at the moment is because this is the majority of the inquiries that we get. The nature of our workforce now is so global and technologically-driven but immigration laws have not caught up with this modern day reality.”
Attendees also discussed cyber insurance in the US, the legal implications of wearable tech and the effects of recent GDPR and other data protection rules.
BAGOL is a network of attorneys from the various BABC chapters. The group provides members with opportunities to make or receive referrals and exchange information of common legal significance.
Challenges: Steve Allen