Business through Brexit Breakfast

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 27th, Apr

Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce in partnership with the Institute of Directors and Merseytravel, hosted a sell-out event - ‘Business through Brexit’ on Friday 27 April attracting business delegates from across the Liverpool City Region.

We had an excellent panel of speakers, including the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the US Embassy, BDO and local MP for Riverside, Louise Ellman , as well as our export champions, Tithebarn and Clarke Energy. The event was chaired by Liverpool’s Echo and Business Post Executive Business Editor, Alistair Houghton. The discussion focused on the local and national economy using the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) results, as well as the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, and what businesses can be doing now to prepare.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at BCC, gave a breakdown of the national QES survey results, as well as the more local North West results. Despite the slowdown in UK economic growth this quarter, exports have strengthened. It was inevitable however, that Brexit would have an impact on growth so whilst the UK does continue to grow it is at a rate below historical trends and is set to be among the lowest of the G7.

Anastassia Beliakova, Head of Trade Policy at BCC, outlined the BCC’s position and addressed topical issues including the stalemate with Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border mediations, the future of custom union deals and trade policies and whether negotiations will be based on sovereignty or market access. Whilst there has been some limited progress it has been slow and businesses need to look at things they can be doing now. She also touched on the negative perception of Brexit in the media, which focused a lot on what we are losing, with no clear idea of what we might be gaining.

Experienced exporters, Denis Sowler of Tithebarn and Alex Marshall of Clarke Energy discussed their preparations for Brexit. Both agreed that it is confounding for businesses to prepare for something that is unknown. Denis Sowler highlighted issues around handling client concerns around the impact on their business, shifts in the relative strength of sterling which affected material costs and affordability of products for clients. Overall however, their underlying message was that good business will succeed – if you have a good product, you will always be able to trade, regardless of any changes to policy.

This view was supported by Jim Lindley, Commercial Counselor within the US Embassy in London. There are over 7,500 US companies operating in the UK, employing over 1 million British citizens, who share some of the concerns of domestic businesses. US businesses in the UK however are building capacity as the UK is still seen as a strong trading partner. However, real clarity is needed from key decision makers to match that level of interest and willingness to succeed.

Mark Sykes, Partner at BDO, described how important it was for businesses to look at how they could operate differently. With the information available, it was important to ask what Brexit will do for you, , despite the ongoing uncertainty. The difficulties for businesses recruiting were also raised, particularly around attracting skills from across a global economy.

Louise Ellman, MP for Riverside highlighted issues around the uncertainty, conflict and complexity within government and emphasised the importance for delegates to do their own analysis.

Denis Sowler and Jim Lindley also emphasised the importance of engaging with and utilising local chambers, the BCC, and other business advice services to get prepared. BCC have produced a Business Brexit Checklist to encourage businesses to check the health of their business and to better prepare. To get your copy contact export@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

If you would like more information, the following events might be of interest:

  • “Moving Goods in a Post-Brexit World” on Wednesday 16th May 2018 - Book here
  • “Economic Business Breakfast: Skills” looking at the next quarter’s results and challenges faced by business on Friday 27th July 2018 - Book here

Contact events@liverpoolchamber.org.uk for more information.

You can also find a link to the Monthly Economic Review on the BCC website

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