AMCHAM: Can you tell our readers/subscribers a bit of your background?
HMA Fleur Tomas: I have experience running a small business and working in larger organisations, having worked for the UK government in various capacities since 2002. Before my posting here in Luxembourg, I was Head of Exports for the Ministry of Defence. I was born on the Isle of Wight in the South of England and have lived in the beautiful South Downs National Park in West Sussex for years. I have also lived and worked in London for a number of years.
AMCHAM: What were your first impressions of Luxembourg?
I had already visited Luxembourg in 2019 and 2020 so I already knew how beautiful Luxembourg City was, but I was less familiar with the other parts of the country. I have been very impressed by the diversity of landscape and have tried to get out and about as much as possible during my first few months here.
AMCHAM: What are some challenges you faced since becoming the Ambassador to Luxembourg? And how did you overcome them?
In the first months after my arrival in April 2021, it was a challenge getting to know people in the middle of a pandemic. There were no larger-scale events at which to meet anyone, so I had a full diary of one-to-one appointments for the first three months, which was quite exhausting, but worthwhile. In light of the rapidly evolving Covid situation, my team and I became experts in contingency planning and sometimes had to take the tough decision of cancelling long-awaited events. Nonetheless, I am cautiously optimistic that the New Year will bring new opportunities to make up for lost time.
AMCHAM: You arrived in Luxembourg in the middle of a pandemic. How do you see the new Omicron variant affecting the Local and international trade?
I think it is too difficult to predict how future Coronavirus variants will affect local and international trade. In terms of the specifics of trade between the UK and Luxembourg, much of this is in the financial services industry and is therefore fortunately subject to less disruption than trade in goods. My Trade & Investment team liaise closely with companies affected by any disruptions and are willing to help anyone that needs assistance in this area.
AMCHAM: How did your previous position in the Ministry of Defence and International trade prepare you for this role? Do you see any relief regarding the global supply chain disruptions?
I had a lot of experience in international diplomacy through my previous roles and had spent a lot of time traveling internationally to discuss trade opportunities or opportunities to work collaboratively on projects with other countries. These lessons in intercultural exchange, diplomacy, and collaboration feature in my work here in Luxembourg too.
The supply chain disruptions were exacerbated by the pandemic: global shortages of materials and staff, transport delays occurring at the same time as a sharp increase in demand. The UK has introduced a range of policy measures to address supply chain problems, such as postponing full import controls on EU goods, easing the licensing process of HGV drivers, and providing temporary visas to address labour shortages in the food sector. The UK is a great trading nation, and in 2022, we are continuing to unlock global opportunities by negotiating free trade agreements with the fastest-growing markets, such as India or the US.
AMCHAM: Do you have any word(s) of motivation for the British expat community and the public in general in terms of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)?
The role of policymakers and private sector stakeholders is essential in driving the change towards a sustainable future. Last November, the UK hosted the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. We came forward with ambitious nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies to reach zero carbon emissions and many other climate-conscious countries followed our lead. Individuals also have a role to play through the choices they make. Every action has consequences, and a few small changes by all of us can help define the fate of our planet for generations to come. Personally, I brought my e-bike over from the UK and use it to get around the city. We also installed an insect hotel (kindly provided by the St Georges’ International School) in the Residence Garden to support biodiversity and have also almost completely given up single-use plastics in the Embassy and Residence.
AMCHAM: Are you involved in any charities or environmental activities, locally or abroad?
Before I moved to Luxembourg, I was involved in a Mental Health charity in the UK and I am fortunate enough to be a patron of a number of charitable organisations here in Luxembourg. These include a wide range of organisations, from social and sports clubs to professional associations who donate large parts of their income to various charities of their choice.
AMCHAM: What are the objectives you wish to accomplish during your time as UK ambassador to Luxembourg?
We will be closely following the Foreign Secretary’s priorities, in particular by working on the economic partnership between Luxembourg and the UK. Our international trade team at the embassy will continue to identify trade opportunities here in Luxembourg, while our Economic Officer will focus on banking and financial services. Personally, I am very supportive of the agenda supporting women and girls and will be exploring opportunities around this in 2022.
AMCHAM: We see in your twitter feed you are passionate about cooking; Would you like to post a recipe in our weekly newsletter? Would you care to share any other personal interests or hobbies?
I would be delighted to post a recipe in a future newsletter, and already have some wonderful dishes in mind.
Besides cooking, I also enjoy knitting and needlepointing, as evidenced by the throw pillows around the Residence.
I am also a keen open water swimmer and enjoy hiking and foraging in the countryside. I like to travel, and love experiencing local cuisines and wines. As you can see, I am very lucky to have hobbies that are supported by the rich Luxembourg landscape and food & wine culture.
Social media links
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