“If a trade association does nothing else – it should act as a voice for its industry amongst politicians and senior government decision makers!”
Lord Sir Digby Jones
A key role of any trade association is to represent its members’ interests among government and statutory bodies.
As the voice of the hydraulic and pneumatic industries in the UK, BFPA engages with a variety of professional associations, government, legislative bodies and other stakeholders in order to represent the interests of its members at national, European and international level.
EAMA (Engineering and Machinery Alliance) is an alliance of independent trade associations, representing mechanical and electronic engineering and manufacturing sectors of the UK economy, and all tiers of the UK machinery and component supply chain.
Founded in 2001, EAMA represents the collective interests of its members among government and other relevant parties to help drive business improvement and success in the UK machinery and component supply chain throughout the UK. EAMA represents firms of all sizes, with a focus on SMEs.
Members include the following trade associations: BFPA, AEA, BCAS, BTMA, BPF, GAMBICA, GTMA, MTA, PICON and SHAPA.
Orgalime is the Brussels based lobbying organisation for all engineering sectors. It is not a UK organisation but a pan European body funded by engineering organisations from all over the EU. UK members include BEAMA and GAMBICA. Membership of one of these bodies allows access to Orgalime and its activities.
Much of Orgalime’s work is in monitoring the flow of new legislation and regulations coming from the European Commission and preparing position papers and lobbying on behalf of its membership. It is a very vociferous organisation and has fought successfully on behalf of its members on many fronts e.g. delaying the revision of the Machinery Directive, watering down the impact of REACH on use of industrial chemicals and helping to get capital equipment such as processing and packaging machinery excluded from the first implementation of WEEE (Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive). They have a useful website which has up-to-date briefing documents and details of legislation passing through the EU commission etc.
CETOP (Comité Européen des Transmissions Oléohydrauliques et Pneumatiques) is the European Association of the Fluid Power industry.
18 national fluid power trade associations, including the BFPA representing the UK, are members of CETOP, which represent more than 1,000 companies, mainly manufacturers but also some distributors, employing some 70,000 employees with a market value of about 13 billion EURO.
CETOP cooperates with ISC (International Statistics Committee) with the aim of collecting global fluid power statistics, following commonly agreed product definitions and nomenclatures. The following associations belong to ISC: CETOP (Europe), CHPSA (China), FPSI (India), JFPA (Japan), NFPA (USA), and TFPA (Taiwan).
BFPA continues to be very active within CETOP. Indeed, through its direct involvement CETOP authored a comprehensive set of recommended academic criteria for training in fluid power (CETOP levels one two and three). BFPA is represented at regular CETOP meetings including: the CETOP Assembly and Market Outlook Conferences, the EU Marketing Commission and BFPA Technical Commitees.
Since its formation in 1997, TAF (the Trade Association Forum) has been encouraging the development and sharing of best practice among UK trade associations and promoting the role of effective trade associations to government, industry and the wider public. Through the Directory the Forum provides comprehensive links to information on UK trade associations and the business sectors they represent.
The Forum provides its members with a range of services and activities designed to assist them in the strategic development and day to day running of their organisations but is not a policy setting body. Funded by its members, the Forum is an incorporated body operating with guidance from a Board of Directors consisting of trade association representatives. BFPA is a member of TAF.
UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry.
UK Finance aims to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation. UK Finance has quickly become recognised as an authoritative, balanced, evidence-led industry body, representing its 300 firms across the industry. Members provide finance, banking, markets and payments-related services in or from the UK, and are large and small, national and regional, domestic and international, corporate and mutual, retail and wholesale, incumbent, challenger and fintech.
BFPA aims to support its members’ financial requirements and concerns by engaging with UK Finance through its membership of EAMA.
The CBI claims to be the UK’s leading business organisation, speaking for some 190,000 businesses that together employ nearly 7 million people, about one-third of the private sector-employed workforce.
With offices across the UK as well as representation abroad, the CBI aspires to coordinate the voice of British business around the world.
BFPA has been a member of the CBI for many years and BFPA’s membership provides access to and a degree of influence over Government policy, with the collective views of the fluid power industry added tot he those of other businesses. In addition, membership of the CBO allows BFPA access to some general economic information and Government activities.
BSI Group, or the British Standards Institution (or BSI), is the UK’s National Standards Body. Founded as the Engineering Standards Committee in London in 1901, it subsequently extended its standardisation work and became the British Engineering Standards Association in 1918, adopting the name British Standards Institution in 1931 after receiving its Royal Charter in 1929. The Group now operates internationally in 150 countries. The core business remains standards and standards related services, although the majority of the Group’s revenue now comes from management systems assessment and certification work.
BFPA holds the external secretariat for 500 of the 7000 standards for which BSI is responsible. This ensures that BFPA committees have an input into all fluid power standards, wherever in the world they are produced or published; in many cases, BFPA has been instrumental in their development.
As the UK’s National Standards Body, BSI is responsible for producing and publishing British Standards and for representing UK interests in international and European standards organizations such as ISO, IEC, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.
UK Local government is subject to extensive lobbying, which is reasonable given the greater importance of the local public sector in large welfare states. Most of the scholarly attention has understandably been focused on lobbying at the national level. Contrary to common misconceptions, generally local representatives seeking re-election are contacted more frequently by interest groups. Interest groups target their lobbying activities toward politicians who are members of the relevant council committees, and they exert stronger pressure on members of the executive board and active representatives who perceive themselves as influential. Interest groups tend to be more active in the richer local governments. The demands of the residential population also impact weakly on lobbying efforts. Recent Government efforts to decentralize a number of initiatives e.g. The local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP’s) that replaced the Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s), and spread the cost of policy implementation have meant that there are a number of localized initiatives and opportunities that merit BFPA attention and by implication, that of its members. However, only the very largest of trade associations can afford the overhead of focusing on local issues on behalf of an individual or small group of members. They can however, provide guidance to members on how they might undertake their own local initiatives. A topical example of this is the Government Business Growth Accelerator program which is implemented at a local level through approved parties operating under a policy framework dictated by central government. The BFPA therefore needs to remain aware of locally implemented initiatives and advise where possible, members in taking their own action should they wish to allocate the necessary resources.
BFPA CEO, Chris Buxton seeks to shed some light on the structure of at-least part of the new Government Structure that seeks to help UK Business forge a strong future in the post-Brexit economy.
In what is still only a matter of weeks since the seismic event that was not just a Brexit vote but a complete restructuring of the UK Government, it would be a brave person that could claim to understand all of the structural changes that have taken place or indeed, those that are bound to follow when the inevitable after-shocks of this particular earthquake bring further change and confusion.
However, as the dust settles and trade associations, including the BFPA, seek to re-engage with the ‘walking wounded’ currently staggering around Whitehall a clearer picture is slowly emerging and I would submit; even speaking as a strong ‘remainer’, there is much for business to be pleased about.
The most obvious change has been the evolution of our much loved Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) into the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy or BEIS for short; (pronounced phonetically; ‘baze’). BEIS is in fact a merger of BIS and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and now consolidates responsibilities for business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy, and climate change under one authority.
To this extent they will be responsible for:
• developing and delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy and leading the government’s relationship with business
• ensuring that the country has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean
• ensuring the UK remains at the leading edge of science, research and innovation
• tackling climate change
As businesses, the first of the above bullets will be of prime interest but where, you may well ask, have ‘Skills’ gone? The answer is a logical one – the Department for Education. However, for those of us who have been around Whitehall long enough this will raise alarm bells. The importance of skills as an integral part of any industrial strategy is paramount and Government departments are renowned for being ‘stove-piped.’ Like fiefdoms, they are reluctant to cross communicate let alone co-operate. Again Business can take comfort. Recognising this failing, the May Cabinet has established a new Ministerial Commission comprising of eleven Cabinet Ministers and Chaired by the PM herself. One of their primary roles will be to ensure that the required cross departmental co-operation actually takes place and they have introduced a stakeholder engagement plan which includes a range of key interested parties such as Unions and Local Councils but significantly, the UK Trade Associations. BFPA is currently the Chair of the UK Trade Association Forum and we have been invited by the new team to have discussions around key issues for our membership.
The key staff within BEIS are:-
• Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
• Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry
• Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (joint minister with Department for Education)
• Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property
• Margot James MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers, and Corporate Responsibility
• Jesse Norman MP, Minister for Industry and Energy
These new ministerial portfolios; (so claims the new Cabinet), “reflect the key priorities for the department to develop a comprehensive industrial strategy; continuing to ensure the UK remains at the cutting-edge of science, research and innovation; tackling climate change; and ensuring affordable, clean and secure energy supply for the UK.”
So; this covers Business interests and Industrial strategy. What about Trade? This activity is going to be the focus of a new department called, not surprisingly; the Department for International Trade or DIT – not, I am told by its new Director, Rosa Wilkinson, to be pronounced ‘ditt’ but to be spelt out in full; D. I. T.
The Department for International Trade has overall responsibility for developing, coordinating and delivering a new trade and investment policy for the UK, including preparing for and then negotiating Free Trade Agreements and market access deals with non-EU countries. Working side by side with the Department for Exiting the EU (see below), the Department for International Trade will help support the negotiation of the UK’s new relationship with Europe.
Working across the whole of government, industry and the UK’s extensive overseas network, the Department supports UK businesses in scaling up and taking advantage of the global appetite for British goods and services, as well as to demonstrate that there has never been a better time for international companies to partner with UK suppliers. It is a specialist body, with significant new trade negotiating capacity, and Government claims that it is revolutionising the way UK businesses access international markets.
There are three groups in the Department for International Trade:
1) The Trade Policy Group, led by John Alty.
2) International Exports and Investment (ITI, formerly UKTI), led by Catherine Raines.
3) UK Export Finance, led by Louis Taylor.
These activities remain essentially as they were under the old regime but under new guidance and authority.
The purpose of the Trade Policy Group is to promote open and fair international markets for the UK.
– Identifying our detailed policy priorities and flexibilities.
– Securing ambitious free trade agreements.
– Ensuring effective implementation of trade and investment rules.
– Supporting the interests of developing countries.
– Delivering efficient and effective import/export licensing services.
– Engaging with stakeholders in government, business, civil society & internationally to explain, advocate and deliver Government goals.
The purpose of DIT’s International Exports and Investment Directorate is; (as it was as UKTI), to drive growth in the value of UK exports and attract the highest value foreign direct investment into the UK.
– Working overseas to identify and deliver high-value export campaigns in the markets and sectors of highest value.
– Working with commercial and public partners in the UK to prepare businesses to export, or to work with businesses to grow their exports.
– Working with local partners and sector experts to deliver high-value foreign direct investment and capital investment into the businesses and areas where it will most benefit the UK economy.
– Delivering scalable export and foreign direct investment support solutions to ensure that mass market export and investment support are ‘digital by default’.
The purpose of UK Export Finance (UKEF) – the UK’s Export Credit Agency – remains essentially unchanged and is to provide assistance and support to exporters and investors where the private sector cannot. This is principally in the form of insurance to exporters and guarantees to banks against non-payment of contract sums or loans. UKEF also provides loans directly to foreign buyers for the purpose of buying UK goods and services. As it always did, UKEF works closely with banks and insurance brokers as well as with exporters and overseas buyers.
So; we now have Business, Industrial strategy, Trade and Exports covered. We then come to the all- important role of managing our exit from the EU.
This, it seems, will fall to the new Department for Exiting the European Union. (No-one can say that it doesn’t ‘do what it says on the tin!’ ) This is such a new concept that policy is still emerging but the Government states that it is ‘responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and EU.’ This is perhaps the most challenging and hazardous Government portfolio.
Their remit includes:
– the policy work to support the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union and to establish the future relationship between the EU and the UK
– working very closely with the UK’s devolved administrations, Parliament, and a wide range of other interested parties on what the approach to those negotiations should be conducting the negotiations in support of the Prime Minister including supporting bilateral discussions on EU exit with other European countries
– leading and co-ordinating cross-government work to seize the opportunities and ensure a smooth process of exit on the best possible terms
Early discussions reveal that their priorities will be:-
– ensuring the government is able to take initial decisions on the UK’s withdrawal on the basis of the best possible advice
– strengthening capability across government in preparation for the work ahead
– reaching out to stakeholders in order to understand and capture their views
– establishing the department and setting it up to succeedOne would hope that the latter point was never in question!
The key senior management team in this new venture includes:
>Oliver Robbins CB, Permanent Secretary
>Sarah Healey, Director General
>Creon Butler, Director of Analysis
>Chris Jones, Director of Justice, Security and Migration
>Joanna Key, Director of Strategy and Planning
>Antony Phillipson, Director of Trade and Partnerships
>Thomas Shinner, Director of Cross-Government Policy Coordination
>Catherine Webb, Director of Market Access and Budget
For those of us with a need to engage with this team the following organogram has been published:-
So there we have it.
A new set of politicians and civil servants with whom to engage and a future which we would all have to admit, may be precarious but is at the very least – exciting!
As Rupert Hodges (secretary to our Engineering & Machinery Alliance) put it; “UK Manufacturing – What’s not to like?” His question may have been rhetorical but it is born of a widely held and arguably, justifiable optimism amongst those of us who engage with Whitehall.
He went on; “You have to admit it’s an unexpected and impressive list. • A cabinet committee chaired by the Prime Minister with the remit to drive the economy and an industrial strategy for the nation • A network of seven world leading open innovation centres where industry and academics can collaborate using highly advanced machinery to speed commercialisation of new UK processes and products and help ensure they come to market here rather that in another country [part of the Catapult network] • A tax structure that encourages both research and development and even pays up on past activity that’s not been claimed before • A permanent annual investment allowance of £250,000 that supports industrial investment • A new government department that’s identified export potential for UK companies in certain overseas markets for sectors such as pumps, taps and valves and fluid power [ITI] • Six national initiatives helping firms explore new technologies such as flexible manufacturing, mass customisation, additive layer manufacturing/3D printing, the internet of things and through life engineering support services for new business opportunities.”
I have to agree with him. The building blocks for a strong UK economy; which means a strong industrial base whether in supply or manufacture, are, in many ways for the first time, now in place. Only time will tell if the full potential of all of this new ‘machinery and resource’ is realised. Certainly the BFPA will continue to work hard on behalf of its members in contributing to the efforts associated with doing so.