Whether you are celebrating or feeling like the end of the world is coming, Brexit is happening. It is on the agenda for the Global Expansion Summit 2017. In our view, the British Chambers of Commerce put it best: “it is businesses that trade, not governments”. So how can you make sure your business is prepared for what lies ahead?
1. Know Your Timelines
Uncertainty will remain about what the impact of Brexit on business until the UK starts negotiating its trade deal with the 27 European member states. Even then, we may not have a clear idea of what lies ahead until the negotiations progress further.
The negotiations themselves will take years (at least two, the minimum but extendable deadline given as part of the Lisbon treaty). But business cannot put trade on hold as they wait for clarity before moving ahead.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The signing of Article 50 creates a great opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes to influence negotiations and ensure their voice is heard in the negotiating phase. So how can you ensure your voice is heard?
2. Join Your Local Chamber
Chambers of Commerce have a voice and good connections to government. Most have already surveyed their members and outlined their Brexit priorities and interests ahead of trade negotiations. Consider joining your chamber to add your voice to the demands of business, on either side of the channel. Some examples include:
British Chambers of Commerce (BCC): Business Brexit Priorities
The BCC has synthesised feedback from over 400 businesses at 16 Chamber-hosted focus groups, along with nearly 20,000 responses to Chamber surveys in its “Business Brexit Priorities” report. It includes priorities for action across seven key areas where business communities want practical solutions and certainty, including trade, customs, tax, regulation, labour market, EU funding, Northern Ireland & the Republic of Ireland.
Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE): Brexit Ambition Project
COBCOE represents international business based in the UK, the rest of Europe and beyond and represents around 8,000 businesses. They are currently working on the Brexit Ambition Project, designed to represent the business priorities of their members in Brexit negotiations.
3. Connect with Industry Bodies
Well-connected industry bodies provide another avenue to feed in your priorities before, during and after negotiations have started. Become a member, write, connect & stay up to date with how your industry is being represented in negotiations. Here are some examples:
The tech industry has been very active ahead of Brexit Negotiations. techUK has been at the forefront of this, calling on the UK and EU to work together to secure a deal that is good for tech.
They have laid out four top priorities for UK Government as part of forthcoming European Exit negotiations and, in January 2017, appointed an independent advisory panel to ensure Brexit is a success for tech and released a report on the UK Digital Sectors after Brexit. If you work in tech, get in touch with techUK and stay up to date with how your sector will be impacted by negotiations.
Federation of Small Business (FSB)
For smaller businesses, FSB may be a good association to consider. Earlier this week they launched the first publication in a series on FSB Brexit Research: “Keep Trade Easy: what small firms want from Brexit”, written following a survey of 1,700 members as well as focus groups through the UK.
Their research shows the top priority market for small firms is still the EU single market (635) and highlights the importance other markets, with nearly half (49%) of FSB members selecting the US as a priority market and one in three (29%) choosing Australia. Other key markets include China (28%) and Canada (23%).