Memorandum submitted by British Trade
Thank you for your letter of 10 April. I entirely
recognise that it might not be possible for the Committee to undertake
an enquiry into the British Trade International Annual Report
2001 before the new Parliament. I remain ready therefore to give
evidence to the Committee in due course at their convenience.
We have no specific comments to make on the
FCO Annual Report. The Committee will be aware I think that we
drafted the elements on British Trade International that appear
in the report. You asked for our views on two points in advance
as part of the Committee's preparation for Sir John Kerr's appearance
before them. I understand though that the Committee's first question
also relates to the Consul General's Residence in San Francisco.
Our response, which follows, therefore covers both issues:
What use has British Trade International made
of the Consulate General [and Residence] in San Francisco?
British Trade International's trade and investment
activities in the San Francisco area are of course based in the
offices of the British Consulate General in San Francisco. The
offices are centrally located and well used for one to one meetings
and some video conferencing. Space is however at a premium and
networking receptions and mission briefings can only take place
there on a small scale. The Consul General's Residence has therefore
been an integral part of our operation. A variety of events have
been held there: lunches, dinners, receptions and networking events
putting businesses together with businesses. We estimate that
on average about 2,000 people a year attend functions with BTI
interests at the residence. And similarly we estimate that over
70 of the 117 functions held at the Residence in the last three
years have related to trade or investment promotion. At least
two receptions held there in the past two months have had more
than 120 guests each from the key industry sectors of information
technology and biotechnology.
How would British Trade International's activities
be affected by closure or relocation of the Consulate General
[or relocation of the Residence]?
An effective operational base in San Francisco
is critical to our trade and development and investment effort
in California. As far as we are aware, there are no plans for
the closure or relocation of the British Consulate General in
British Trade International believe that the
Consul General's Residence should reflect the UK's current standing
in the San Francisco business community; maintain the UK's prominent
and positive profile in California and provide a "unique"
British environment that portrays an attractive image of the UK.
The current location is a useful adjunct to the facilities afforded
by the offices of the Consulate General and any relocation of
the residence would need to be handled with great care to avoid
adverse effect on its use for trade and investment purposes.
We are confident that the FCO has these important
considerations in mind. They have as much interest as BTI in ensuring
that Britain's high profile image locally is not diminished by
moving the Residence to a less prestigious location. British Trade
International is confident that should the FCO make any changes
in the location of the residence, the nation's trade and investment
promotion needs will be taken fully into account in terms of the
choice of any new residence. Wherever the residence is, its style
and size must continue to provide a suitable marketing tool for
23 April 2001