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Danny Lopez

British Consul-General, New York

Part of Digital Diplomacy

23rd November 2011 New York, USA

UK calling global entrepreneurs

On the morning of Thursday, 17 November, I had the privilege of attending a panel forum on the topic of immigration featuring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Toronto Mayor David Miller, and Grupo Salinas Founder & Chairman Ricardo B. Salinas Pliego.

The panel, moderated by New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas Friedman, discussed how U.S. immigration policies affect the ability of American companies to compete and grow. Held at the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Midtown Manhattan, the event was organised by the Partnership for New York City.

I was asked to serve as a respondent to the panel, and my fellow respondents were Lenny Mendosa (director at McKinsey), Robert Greifeld (Nasdaq CEO), Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, and Cris Conde, former CEO of Sungard. I spoke about the UK’s  perspective on our current immigration issues and challenges. Like in the US, immigration is a very important subject in the UK. The Government is seeking to reduce net migration but it is also focusing on attracting the best and brightest. A good example are the new visa rules for foreign investors and entrepreneurs, which are designed to reward those who will contribute the most to economic growth.

The new rules mean that those who go to the UK and make significant investments will be given the right to settle permanently faster. Those who invest £5million will be able to apply for residency after three years and those  investing £10million or more will be be able to do so after two. Entrepreneurs can apply for visas if they have either £200,000 or a reputable organisation’s backing of at least £50,000. And they will be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create ten jobs or turn over £5m in a three year period.

During the panel discussion, Mayor Bloomberg stressed his goals and attitudes towards the importance of attracting immigrants at a time of economic crisis and challenge in America and abroad. “Modernizing our immigration system is a cost-free way to create jobs at a time when real job creation solutions are few and far in between,” he said. “If we want to put Americans back to work, we need to embrace an Immigration Stimulus.” In this week’s Economist there is a very interesting report on migration and business which makes the same point and argues that migrants see the world through more than one cultural lens, spotting opportunities which are invisible to their monocultural neighbours.

The new entrepreneur visas introduced by the UK have led applications to double in the period of April-June. Tech City is a good example for me that showcases the importance of this new initiative. It is the fastest technology community in Europe. It is thriving and its future is hugely exciting. It also needs more ideas, additional talent, the very best of the entrepreneurial spirit around the world today. That is why it is important to make it attractive for entrepreneurs to develop their business in the UK. They are welcome in the UK and we want to help them succeed.

About Danny Lopez

Danny was appointed British Consul-General, New York in July 2011 and has responsibility for promoting the UK’s economic profile, foreign policy and national security priorities in New York, New Jersey,…

Danny was appointed British Consul-General, New York in July 2011 and has responsibility for promoting the UK’s economic profile, foreign policy and national security priorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut’s Fairfield County. He is on the Board of UK Trade & Investment, the foreign commercial arm of the UK Government, and leads its operations across the USA. Prior to joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Consul-General Lopez enjoyed a varied career in the UK’s public and private sectors. From 2009 to 2011, he worked for the London Development Agency, the Mayor of London’s economic development arm, as Group Director for Business Support and Promotion. During this time, he was responsible for creating London & Partners, the UK capital’s promotional agency for business, visitors and students and was its inaugural CEO. From 2006 to 2009, he was Managing Director, Marketing & Communications at UK Trade & Investment, where he was responsible for delivering a new marketing strategy to promote and showcase the UK economy internationally. Previously, he worked at Barclays Bank for ten years, where he held a number of senior international positions, including Director of Business Banking USA in New York, Head of Inward Investment in London and Business Development Director in India. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics and a Masters in International Economics and Finance from the University of Essex. He is recently engaged to his Australian fiancee Susan and is a big fan of running, tennis, football (soccer) and Formula 1.

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