Fri, March 31st, 2017
The two-year countdown begins
This week, after months of posturing and rhetoric following last June’s EU Referendum, Prime Minister Theresa May has finally triggered Article 50.
The two-year countdown until Britain’s departure from the EU begins and Mrs May told the House of Commons the separation would have “consequences”.
This much we know and now businesses in the Liverpool city region, and across the UK, are keen to know exactly what those consequences will be.
Liverpool & Sefton Chambers has been keen to stress to its members that Brexit will see opportunities open up in other parts of the world.
The recently-opened £400m Liverpool2 container terminal is ready to take full advantage of a much-anticipated trade agreement with the US.
But we must be under no illusion. Leaving the EU will be a long and arduous journey, there'll be hiccoughs along the way. We need to be mindful that the white noise created may create uncertainty which can be harmful to business.
Call from industry
Earlier this week the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, joined forces with Brussels-based Manufacturing group, CEEMET to call on UK and EU negotiators to reach a deal that will avoid an “economic shock”.
It called on both sides to “affect a stable and orderly exit, preserving as much as possible the often complex and delicate trading relationships that are in place”.
Although it has to be acknowledged that the two-year timetable is a tight one, the ideal scenario for business two years from now would be a conclusion to both the Brexit and trade negotiations at the same time.
This would allow Merseyside firms that currently trade with Europe to continue to do business with the minimum disruption.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Now that Brexit negotiations are set to begin, businesses across the UK and their trading partners in Europe want answers to practical questions, not political posturing.
“A pragmatic and grown-up dialogue on the real-world issues, rather than verbal volleys between London and Brussels, would give firms greater confidence over the next two years.
"In the early weeks of the negotiation process, businesses would like to see an effort to secure simultaneous exit and trade talks.”
Mr Marshall also urged the Government not to become a single-issue administration and remember that there are many other pressing matters that must not be neglected.
He added: “It is crucial for the Prime Minister and her Government to remember Brexit is not the only thing on the minds of UK businesses.
“Issues here at home, from the training system to sky-high business rates and up-front costs, still need to be addressed.
“Businesses would not look kindly on a government that treats Brexit as its only job. Getting the fundamentals right here in the UK is as important, if not more important, than any eventual Brexit deal.”