Lavish hospitality laid on for foreign dignitaries and businessman during the London Olympics has helped British companies secure contracts and agreements abroad worth £1.5bn in areas including oil drilling in Brazil and nuclear power in Jordan.
A government report into the economic legacy of the 2012 Games published today estimates that the sporting extravaganza has garnered a £9.9bn windfall in trade and investment for the battered economy, potentially rising to £41bn by 2020.
The study highlights the importance of the British Business Embassy, held in the chandelier-bedecked surroundings of Lancaster House where delegations from Brazil to China were schmoozed last summer with Michelin-starred cuisine to help win new deals.
The Independent revealed last year that the Government had drawn up a list of 50 investment projects around the world – ranging from controversial oil exploration in Kazakhstan to building Russian railways – which ministers and officials were expected to target during the Games.
The report by UK Trade and Investment said that in the 12 months since the Olympics and Parlaympics, “High Value Opportunity” contracts worth £1.5bn had been won in locations including Singapore and Saudi Arabia due to “credentials established through London 2012 and UKTI-led events”.
The agency said an energy forum at the “Embassy”, attracting more than 570 delegates, had helped lay the groundwork for contracts including £950m of business related to oil drilling in Brazil and Nigeria. Delegates from Jordan and the Czech Republic, where Britain is working to develop civil nuclear programmes, also attended events at the building. A separate event at Lancaster House also helped secure a deal with India to co-operate on urban planning.
The “Embassy” in Lancaster House was an attempt to rekindle the success of events such as the 1951 Festival of Britain by presenting a “showcase of national enterprise and innovation”. Visitors were presented with tablet computers highlighting British products and promised “visionary menus and food presentations”.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said: “There is no doubt that the London 2012 Games proved a success story for British business. This has created a multi-billion pound business springboard to take British expertise to the world.”
The UKTI report said the Olympics had also helped secure significant inward investment, including the targeting of up to £10bn spending by Qatar. The gas-rich emirate, which is hosting the 2022 football World Cup and has awarded contracts in excess of £70m to British design firm Atkins, is considering investments in energy plants, roads and the Thames “super-sewer”.