As far as Brexit is concerned; at the present time the only thing that all relevant political parties involved agree on is that they cannot agree on the next course of action that should be taken. The genesis of the current debacle lies in the open-ended unqualified question that was put to the people on 23 June 2016, which as we all know was: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The highly questionable campaign that followed did precious little to explain the consequences of either course of action and certainly did not quantify the costs involved for both, the so-called divorce payment or the potential tariffs that may be applied to the UK regarding cross-border EU trade post-Brexit.
There is nothing suggest that the fragmented squabbling politicians have even the ghost of a cohesive agreement that the majority find acceptable and the stalling tactics which Mrs. May is currently employing does not make it any more likely that any such agreement will be reached, even if she strings out the Commons vote.
Global competition is too keen to simply hope that things will be alright, action has to be taken to ensure that supply chains are maintained and jobs are preserved. Businesses at all levels are faced with an unprecedented level of uncertainty which has made it all but impossible to have a cohesive plan for the future. Some companies have spent time and money in various ways to protect their businesses in an effort to secure the trade they currently enjoy, such as relocating their headquarters to the main country they do business with; others have thrown in the towel, as far as the UK is concerned, and planned to move away from the UK. It cannot be denied that damage has been done to many businesses and there is considerable documented evidence of the slowing down of growth and investment. The Bank of England’s predicted 2020 GDP growth rate has been reduced to 1.5%, down from 1.7%.
More or less from the outset some industry sectors could see big problems on the horizon, the haulage and transportation sector recognised that without the support of the European Investment Bank important projects could stall and collapse; the engineering and pharmaceutical sectors both have the same concerns that they would be locked out of Europe and would struggle with their supply chains; not to mention no longer obtaining access to research funding; as well as more than one sector being concerned about being able to recruit the expertise they require. Furthermore on top of the obvious easily predicted consequences there is a whole raft of unintended consequences such as the Falkland Islands no longer receiving EU environmental and biodiversity funding; also there is a risk that the UK’s aviation sector may lose rights over Switzerland and Morocco due to the UK carriers being reclassified as non-EU carriers and therefore unable to benefit from the special arrangements arising from the EU’s negotiations and Dover was never intended to handle detailed customs checks and now has to try and upgrade its systems without knowing what the post-Brexit tariffs will look like. Dr. Richard Lang, a senior lecturer on EU Law in University of Brighton’s Brighton Business School commented: “the scale of legal complexity may challenge the UK and overseas companies”.
Despite all the difficulties UK businesses face, there will always be trade routes to find, provided they ensure that there is sufficient agility within their business model to be reactive to opportunities that arise. The vital need to plan for all eventualities has never been more critical. UK business strategies would do well to consider seeking professional advice from advisors that can provide an insight into the countries they wish to do business with and make sure that they don’t miss any of the signals and signs during the course of their initial dealings that could torpedo any future business.
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