“Pop-up diplomacy” is what Peter Abbott calls it.
A whirlwind week-long series of virtual meetings with Connecticut – the Department of Corrections, the Nature Conservancy, the insurance industry, UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, and Attorney General William Tong.
Since Abbott arrived in Boston last September, travel and opportunities to engage in the kind of everyday diplomacy that’s part of his job as British Consul General to New England, have been few and far between.
And in a 45-minute call with Geoff Pigman and Gregory Stroud for CT Examiner on Thursday morning, Abbott appeared especially eager to discuss opportunities for UK investment and business cooperation in the offshore wind industry, a 20-gigawatt, $70 billion business which may in part be operated soon out of Bridgeport and New London.
Abbott touted the UK as not only home to the single largest wind farm in the world, and a leader in managing relationships with fishing communities, but also as an established player in the American energy market with companies that include Xodus Group, Boston Energy and BP.
He described with particular enthusiasm his conversation with Bates, who has played a substantial, if somewhat controversial, early role in brokering Danish wind giant Ørsted’s arrival to New London.
Abbott also offered hope that an expected March memorandum of understanding for future financial services regulation with the EU would clear some uncertainty since the UK’s January 2020 departure from the EU to a smaller UK market.
As for the potential for a further vote and departure of Scotland from the UK, a question posed by Pigman, Abbott decidedly downplayed the possibility, which would require the consent of Westminster.
In the future we expect more discussion of US exports of aerospace technology to the UK – a $740 million business in 2020 – and the impact of Brexit on Airbus.
When Rachel Wells, a politics, press & public affairs officer for the Consulate-General in Boston, reached out last Wednesday to arrange the conversation with Abbott, the offer came on the tail end of a small flurry activity in our inbox tying business in Connecticut with the UK.
It’s the kind the of nuts and bolts, state-by-state diplomacy that will be necessary before the Biden Administration, or perhaps the next administration hammers out a broader trade agreement. For southeastern Connecticut? We’ll keep a close eye in particular on the UK entrance into offshore wind, which might just prove to be the most exciting new business opportunity in Connecticut.
An occasional contributor to CT Examiner, Geoffrey Allen Pigman is a senior strategic advisor and thought leader in diplomacy and global political economy, focusing on international trade and international sport. Pigman holds a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford.
His most recent book, Negotiating Our Economic Future: Trade, Technology, and Diplomacy, can be purchased here.