Foreign business trips aren’t the walk in the park some people might imagine them to be.
OK, so I am rather looking forward to my one day trip to Rome on the last Thursday of this month for the latest Public Security Exhibition run by ADS, the premier trade organisation pushing the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries globally, to which we belong.
And I do hope to get the chance for a walk to some of the city’s most famous sites in The Vatican, the Trevi Fountain and The Colosseum, after which we have named a high-specification modular Multi Use Games Area.
But a visit last week from our UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) international trade advisor Terence Madkins asking for evidence of how other foreign trips have benefited Zaun in terms of sales and orders made it very clear that this is about business rather than leisure and pleasure.
So I was delighted to tell him of millions of pounds of orders we have secured in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman, among others, since first attending Intersec in 2010 and opening a regional office for the Middle East in Dubai two years ago.
This year Business Secretary Vince Cable popped by to launch a new UKTI Gulf Investment Team, sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and headed by accountants’ firm PwC, to find 100 new investment opportunities, which will lead to 15 concrete investment projects from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE by the end of March 2015.
It dovetails with a UKTI target of increasing bilateral trade with the UAE in goods and services to £12bn by 2015.
In May, we were in Belek in Turkey, mixing with the top brass of international sport and those seeking to run city-based mega-events, such as the recent 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
We have presented and exhibited as part of UKTI delegations at the LAAD Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; SportAccord in St Petersburg, Russia; and numerous Middle Eastern conferences to drum up more business and bang the British drum. And we’re proud to be part of that big British effort.
So, why Rome, you may ask? Well, it’s the capital city of Europe’s fourth-largest economy and the Italian government’s seat. The state ministries are dotted around the city, such as the Italian Home Office (Ministero dell’Interno), the police and Carabinieri headquarters, and it is the pivotal centre for the Italian public security sector procurement system.
Italy has a strong reputation for purchasing high-quality security products and sources, many of them from within Europe. The country is open to investment by foreign manufacturers, particularly those seeking Italian participation in R&D and new technologies.
The Italian Government is committed to ongoing investment in security, with particular emphasis on new and improved technology. And UKTI in Milan and Rome works closely with the Defence Attaché’s office in the British Embassy and with the Defence and Security Organisation and the UK and Italian ministries, yielding an extensive portfolio of contacts at the top levels the Italian government and security forces.
The Italians regard UK security products well. And at PSE, we will enjoy the insights of Italian agent Alessandro De Bernardis into the police structure in Italy and an overview of the market.
Just thinking about all that hard work, I might need an ice cream alongside the Spanish Steps to chill out and cool down. Let’s hope I don’t need a security van for the fortune they might charge me, as British tourist Roger Bannister complained last year!