The new Conservative government in the UK needs to focus on developing international trade, and especially on providing details of how this is going to work once the country leaves the EU.
A survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) ahead of Brits going to the polls on 12 December asked over 1,000 business directors what would be most important to their organisation when the government picks up negotiations with the EU about future trade and economic arrangements.
Over half (55 per cent) stated that the terms and content of the final deal would be the most important factor for them.
Less than one-third (31 per cent) said that the length of time it takes for the negotiations to conclude would be the most important factor. Just 13 per cent said that the future trade and economic relationship between the UK and EU wasn’t relevant to their firm.
The IoD has published its own paper, making recommendations for the incoming government on what it should do to minimise the negative impacts of leaving the EU and implementing new trade deals.
One of the things it is calling for political parties to commit to is a “trade sense check”, where the “potential impact of new domestic regulation on our trade” is assessed.
The organisation also wants the new government to agree to a “sufficient adjustment period” before any new trade deal is introduced to ensure businesses have time to properly prepare. It also wants to see negotiating objectives publicly published ahead of all new trade talks.
Finally, the IoD recommends making imports “a more positive part of the government narrative on promoting trade”.
Assuming that the EU Withdrawal Agreement passes through parliament after the general election, the IoD has also prepared a series of actions that are designed to ensure the exit process goes as smoothly as possible.
This includes making sure that Northern Ireland’s position in the UK internal market is protected and delivering financial support to SMEs to help them with their Brexit planning and adjustment.
Head of Europe and trade policy at the IoD Allie Renison commented: “While it’s impossible to know at this point how Brexit will turn out, business needs a number of commitments from the next government to help navigate its way through choppy trade waters ahead.”
She also stressed that, while there has been a lot of talk about a “global Britain” from politicians, there has been little substance behind their comments.
“The ideas we lay out aim to bring the discussion back to basics of what business needs to safeguard and expand their international footprint - with the EU and beyond,” Ms Renison added.
The UK’s freight and shipping sector will certainly be affected by Brexit and any trade deals that are introduced once the country leaves the EU. The next Brexit deadline is at the end of January, and it appears the shipping industry is already preparing for the country leaving but Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union.
According to the BBC, the shipping industry is drawing up plans to divert shipments that are going through Britain to Northern Ireland to ports such as Liverpool and Stranraer where there is sufficient space for customs inspections.
This is despite Boris Johnson denying that any checks will be necessary for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
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