As the saying goes, “New Year, New Me”, but in this case, New Year, New Wales!
2020 must be a year of clear vision and as we come to the end of the first month of the year, we must look up, push forward and look to the future of Wales.
With the General Election, Christmas and New Year and the latest Royal announcement taking up most of the column inches, coming back after the break you can be easily forgiven for pushing Brexit to the back of your mind. However, for most people, especially businesses, Brexit should remain front of mind.
‘Getting Brexit Done’ is a major issue for most businesses around Wales and with the new Westminster Government in place, it is time for them to really get down to thrashing out the details for international trade as well as doing all they can to working collaboratively with their colleagues in the Welsh Government.
In a recent IoD survey, more than half of members think details of the UK’s future relationship with the EU is their main priority – and rightly so.
As Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, said before Christmas:
“Businesses need a number of commitments from the new government to help navigate its way through choppy trade waters ahead.
"Understanding the exact nature of how arrangements with the EU may change is critical for companies, and our data shows that getting a workable deal after Brexit is more important to business leaders than simply how long it takes to get there.”
We have 11 months for the deal and transition to go through and during this time it is vital that we, as business leaders, play our part in getting Brexit done by communicating the impact on the economy and ensuring our voices and the voices of the business community are heard and acted upon.
Since coming back to work after the New Year, I have met with both the new Secretary State for Wales, Simon Hart MP and Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates AM, and Brexit has been dominant in our discussions - how to prepare for the inevitable and how to help businesses.
This topic should be at the forefront in every business right now, not just water-cooler talk but a priority in meetings. We need to make noise.
This evening I will be attending an event with Eluned Morgan AM, Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, who will outline the Welsh Government’s new International Strategy priorities - a vital plan that will help promote Wales on a global stage and be a foundation to help grow the economy by increasing exports and attracting inward investment.
Such plans are imperative at times like this, which is why the Wales Week movement is so important and we will be working closely with them on the Wales Week in London initiative as well as other opportunities to underline Wales’ presence on the world stage.
We need to get Wales known. We need to get Wales heard. We need to shout about our products, services and achievements.
We can’t sit and wait for Brexit to be done. We need to start maximising the existing relationships and building those new ones now and having those conversations so that when the time does finally arrive, we are more than prepared for our future.
And this is something that all businesses need to think about. Not just the big ones – small ones and those who are in supply chains. Brexit will impact the economy, whether it is direct or indirect, so it is time to think big, take an expansionist viewpoint and get Wales heard.