David Parkin on strong transatlantic ties, the tooth of the matter and mankini selfies

DONALD Trump might be threatening to take a sledgehammer to many of the United States’ foreign trade agreements but that shouldn’t mask the huge opportunity that British firms have to do business with America.

With Brexit looming, there is a renewed enthusiasm on both sides of the Atlantic to build new trading relationships.

One such example is a trade mission which takes place in September when Stefan Pryor, Secretary of Commerce for the State of Rhode Island, will head up a group of US businesses and a team of commerce and tourism officials heading to the UK.

Visiting the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities of Leeds, Hull and Manchester as well as Edinburgh, the mission will see Rhode Island firms meet with UK business leaders with the aim of growing exports between the state and the North of England and Scotland.  

I’m joining the group and their hosts for a number of events and will be compering a breakfast panel discussion for ExportExchange, the peer-to-peer mentoring initiative aimed at supporting overseas trade in the Leeds City Region, on September 20 at the offices of UK-US law firm Womble Bond Dickinson.

Secretary Pryor and his team will be talking to UK businesses about the latest incentives and support available for British companies planning to set up an operation in Rhode Island, which is increasingly being seen by UK businesses as a first landing place in the US.

Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the US but its position sandwiched in between Boston and New York could have seen in overshadowed by its much larger and higher profile neighbours.

Instead it has been very entrepreneurial, emphasising its location as an opportunity and the state itself has displayed a ‘can do’ attitude in looking to promote the benefits and incentives for foreign firms to consider it as their base for entering into the vast US market.

Stefan Pryor said: “More and more, international companies are realising the benefits of doing business in Rhode Island – including our competitive tax structure, potent economic development tools, and high quality of life. Companies with UK roots, including Finlays and Virgin Pulse, have chosen to plant their flag in our state, and we look forward to exploring opportunities with other companies that are looking to expand in America.”

The trade mission, which has been organised by the Chafee Centre for International Business at Bryant University, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and the US Department of Commerce, will bring together Rhode Island businesses offering unique products and services with potential UK resellers, agents and distributors as well as seeking suppliers and customers.

As part of the visit, the delegation will meet with seasoned and potential Yorkshire exporters as well as leaders in fintech and medtech industries where Rhode Island has a strong and growing sector that mirrors that of the North of England.

The visit builds upon a trip from Boston and New England to Leeds in 2016 when business leaders met with leading firms and civic leaders in the region for the first time, and which highlighted the similarities between the two economies and strengthened the ambition to do business together.

The photo above shows Stefan Pryor (left), Secretary of Commerce for the State of Rhode Island, on his last visit to Yorkshire in 2016, with Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council.

US firms on the mission seeking to make contact with potential customers and suppliers, as well as exploring joint venture opportunities, include: environment monitoring specialist AVTECH Software ; Bryant University’s John H. Chaffee Center for International Business; intellectual property law specialist Feeney Law which has built a network of UK lawyers based in London and Leeds; sea floor mapping company Inspire Environmental; precision component manufacturer Mearthane Products Corporation (MPC); StormTree which designs and installs flood water management systems; coffee-roasters Queen Bean Coffee Company; and VPI Logistics which provides a comprehensive distribution service.

If you are considering starting trading with the US or are looking to further develop your overseas business with America then you are very welcome to meet up with members of the delegation during their trip.

The trade mission will be in Leeds, Hull and Manchester between September 18 and 21 and firms interested in meeting with the delegation can contact the mission organiser Paul Snape via email at info@GreatBritishMarketing.com


WHAT is this obsession with having perfect, white protruding teeth?

Everywhere you look these days there are people with enormous false gnashers which are clearly not real and look rather ridiculous.

OK I can accept that the shallow nits off Love Island have spent money on their teeth given the rest of their bodies also look surgically enhanced.

But then I saw a photo in the Daily Mail last Saturday (I buy it for the TV guide) of several contestants in the new Celebrity Bake Off show and all of them were showing off huge gleaming white teeth.

All I could think off was Dick Emery’s vicar character.

Surveying fruit and veg entries at a village fete, he unleashed his unfeasibly large dentures and smiled at another Emery character, buxom, blonde man-eater Mandy.

“What lovely specimens my dear, big, round and gorgeous,” he commented.

“Ooh, you are awful, but I like you,” she replied, punching him in the shoulder hard enough to send him sprawling over the prize winning fruit and vegetables.


EMMA Bearman, who runs Leeds-based social enterprise Playful Anywhere, which runs projects encouraging play and creativity for children asked me the other day if I had seen a new report suggesting that ‘play’ should be prescribed on the NHS.

Unsurprisingly I hadn’t (l had been preoccupied with a number of pre-Brexit reports from the Economic Research Council).

I might have taken the report about play a bit more seriously if it hadn’t been issued by LEGO.

No self interest for the firm there then.

But it did get me thinking that perhaps watching Leeds United should be prescribed by doctors.

All the Leeds United fans I know used to be sallow, morose figures who wandered around in a state of semi-permanent misery.

Now look at them.

They come bounding up to you in the street all bright eyed and flashing you a toothy grin before waxing lyrical about the “Hollywood football” being played by their team under eccentric Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa.

When it comes to the style of football played, I might have said “Brazilian” but was put off by a painful experience I’ve just had with a pre-holiday beauty treatment.

“Look at them, they’re full of it,” said a Sheffield Wednesday supporter of my acquaintance, “they all think they’ll be up before the lights.”

Which I assume are the Christmas lights, but given the unbridled enthusiasm of some Leeds United fans, it could be the coloured lights which festoon the trees on the Stray in Harrogate which are turned on when the clocks go back.

A sobering loss to Preston in the Carabao Cup this week is unlikely to have dampened enthusiasm and I’m sure any questions about it will be batted away with the response: “Well, we didn’t want a cup run getting in the way of a promotion push.”

To be fair you would expect the same approach from all fans of teams that haven’t collected silverware or won promotion for many years.

When it comes down to it, we all would love a bit of success, but if we can enjoy the ride on the way there, then even better.


I’M off on holiday to Greece next week where I will unpacking the Parkin mankini for the final time this summer (signed selfies available for £5 each on my return) so this blog is taking a break and will return two weeks today.

Have a great weekend.

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