When the only certainty is uncertainty

Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 29th, Jun

It has been an extraordinary few weeks on the international stage. From an acrimonious G7 Summit, changes in the leadership of both the Spanish and Italian governments to the media frenzy which surrounded the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. At home, the Brexit debate continues to expose the rifts on both sides of the House and as the German Chancellor is coming under increasing pressure at home, it is hard to predict what will happen next.

In fact the only thing that is certain is the uncertainty which currently exists around future trade agreements.

Post G7, journalists were in their element analysing the impact of what has traditionally been a predictable but friendly gathering, failing to agree on a final communiqué, and casting doubt on the future of the G7 itself. For the markets themselves however, it was business as usual, as they remained unmoved by the political rhetoric and exchange of personal insults.  Undoubtedly however it has left the G7 in a weaker position at a time when more stability and co-operation is needed, not just around trade.

The acrimony was not unexpected, coming as it did after the US announcement on tariffs before the Summit.  Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), warned of the impact on UK businesses and local communities of the US tariffs, urging the government to work with our EU partners whilst we can to “prevent a global slide into protectionism that would make all of us poorer”.

The position of the International Chamber of Commerce was also clear, with Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal stating that “Open markets underpinned by the rules-based multilateral trading system have been a vital driver of prosperity across the world over the past 50 years….Tariff hikes will inevitably impact small businesses that often rely heavily on imported goods and services.”  

For those businesses not directly affected, it is tempting to dismiss these global spats as someone else’s problem or simply not relevant. Whilst we should not let them define our negotiations around any future trade policy, the escalation of any kind of “tit for tat” tariff increases will have much wider ramifications, particularly post Brexit when, despite the resilience and determination of UK plc, it is unlikely to be business as usual.

As part of the BCC network we are in an excellent position to make sure the voice of business is not only heard but listened to and I would encourage you therefore to contact the team at the Chamber so we can understand your concerns and support you where we can. You can email us at policy@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

And finally, in the spirit of global co-operation I feel I must mention the World Cup! Securing a place in the final 16 after an unprecedented win over Panama on Sunday keeps England at the centre of the world sports stage – best of luck!

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