For many, today is the beginning of a new term. Whether it’s actually back to school after the long Summer holidays or getting back to work after the August holiday period, there’s always a sense of that ‘back to school’ feeling for those in the business community who will be especially alert to what we know is to come with regards to Brexit.
Positive announcements from last week, which resulted in the pound rallying on the markets, just shows how a little bit of good news can make all the difference. IoD members and businesses that I speak to will be watching developments of the next few weeks very carefully so that much needed certainty, clarity and detail can be achieved.
One thing that I am sure of is that whatever happens in October / November with the Brexit deal, we in Wales and the wider UK would benefit from concentrating some of our efforts on identifying the opportunities that we might find on the global stage.
In recent weeks, I have met with two of the newly appointed UK Government Trade Commissioners, specifically those with portfolios for Europe and for the Middle East. The meeting was extremely positive and I believe that coupled with Welsh Government’s support to exporters, businesses can feel confident that there is help at hand and expertise available to those who are considering exporting.
This was further emphasised to me when meeting Baroness Fairhead, the UK Government’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department for International Trade. Her experience as a former Business Ambassador for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) with a strong background in global business is valuable and our meeting was extremely positive.
Her visit to Cardiff was part of the launch of the UK Government’s export strategy, just a couple of weeks ago. Maximising trade opportunities across the globe will be key to the UK’s future economic success and therefore the IoD welcomed these latest strategy developments, which we believe provides a solid foundation on which to build.
Improving the export performance of Wales will depend on many variables, but the good news is that there is plenty that can be done to help businesses now, irrespective of Brexit.
I encourage members to engage with governments at both ends of the M4 to make sure this strategy really takes off and enables Welsh firms to realise their full trading potential.
Last week, I also met with the team from Qatar Airways and received an update on the great progress that they are making with their flights from Cardiff Airport. In the IoD, I’ve always maintained that an integrated transport infrastructure is essential for economic development and the opportunity for businesses with these flights is immense and should not be underestimated. The gateway to the wider world from Wales must be viewed as a terrific opportunity and I for one am waving the flag for these services whenever I am able to do so.
I meet with many businesses across Wales and those who seek new horizons and new opportunities make a particular impression upon me. A phrase that I often use is ‘Business finds a way.’ And whatever the outcome of Brexit, I am confident that businesses will find a way to reach new markets whether at home or abroad.
Robert Lloyd Griffiths is Director of the Institute of Directors in Wales www.iod.com