Supporting members through COVID-19: International View

Wed, May 13th, 2020

Elena Enciso, International Trade Manager at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce:

As the international trade manager at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, the last 7 weeks or so have been extremely challenging but also provided us with a real insight into what really matters to Chamber members.

As normal trading conditions essentially stopped across the world, I was naturally worried about the specific challenges faced by our exporters, freight forwarders and manufacturers including logistics, breakdown of supply chains, fluctuating freight rates, changes in global consumer habits, localisation and digitalisation. This is in addition to those impacting on businesses more generally including cashflow and the ongoing health and safety of employees.

It hasn’t been easy for any business and new issues emerge daily but I continue to be impressed by our members’ resilience and innovation, recognising the need to adapt and change the way they do things as well as tackling the challenges head on.

International trade continues to be crucial in the restart and recovery process. Inevitably there will be changes in the way we trade, including a reduction in overseas travel with more virtual meetings and a reliance on technology more generally. Excellent communications with customers is now even more essential than before.

As part of a global Chamber network it has been fascinating to take part in a number of virtual meetings with overseas colleagues organised by the British Chambers of Commerce. This is a global pandemic, which has had an impact on companies across the world. Uniquely it gives us the opportunity to work collaboratively to identify key steps which all businesses can take to be more resilient and adapt to a changing commercial and social environment.

I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home and it has been much easier than I initially thought to keep in touch with colleagues and businesses. The Chamber is continuing to support our members involved in international trade, providing introductions, online training and support and continuing to process export documentation.

The key thing I have learnt from this experience is that we might fear change but we need to embrace it if we want to succeed and thrive and no business needs to tackle this challenge alone - to be part of the Chamber is to be part of a local, national and international business community – we are here to help!

I have also realised how much I miss actually going into the office, catching up with my colleagues, meeting members at our Reception and planning our next social get together. I admit that I also miss my lunchtime shopping trips in the city centre and popping into a local coffee shop or grocery store for a missing ingredient for the evening meal.

Most of all I realise how much I miss having close contact with friends and family. I have become proficient using zoom and Skype to supplement the lack of personal contact but a Skype call just isn’t the same as seeing someone in person.

I can’t wait to be sociable again – hopefully very soon!

We would really like to hear your views on how you are dealing with the impact of coronavirus and what additional support you would find helpful either from the Chamber or the government. To get in touch on any issues related to International Trade please contact export@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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