Rhetoric surrounding the possibility of a no-deal scenario seemed to swell in recent weeks and once again this chatter coincided with a drop in company directors’ confidence in the UK economy.
Our most recent IoD Policy Voice survey found that heightened speculation around the chances of the talks failing to result in a deal, corresponded with business leaders’ confidence in the UK macroeconomic conditions falling to its lowest point in 2018 so far. After UK general economic conditions, the biggest single concern across IoD membership was the uncertain trading status with the EU.
The Government has sought to show it is stepping up preparations for all possible outcomes of the talks. This month it published the first tranche of a series of 80 ‘technical notices’ intended to explain what Britain would do in the event of no-deal. The 25 documents forming part of this first tranche, which span various sectors and themes, are available for public viewing here. The IoD has also created a webpage explaining the guidance, which will be updated once further technical notices are released.
We at the IoD welcomed the release of the documents. While we thought the information was a little belated and would have ideally been issued earlier than at this stage, it is nonetheless important that company directors familiarise themselves with the implications of a no-deal outcome on their business. The notices should be viewed as a call to action for those companies that have so far felt they lacked adequate guidance to plan. In essence, our message at the moment is that no deal with no planning would be bad – but no deal with no planning would be far worse.
Don’t forget that the IoD published its own no-deal guidance earlier this summer available exclusively to members. Do have a read of Business Planning for Brexit, which sets out steps for companies to take in the areas of goods, services and people.
It’s no surprise that Brexit seems to take up so much bandwidth that it renders other important trade issues overshadowed. But with talk of a no-deal seemingly at a high, it’s nice to see potential longer-term bright spots on the UK economic horizon coming to the fore.
For example, earlier this month the Government published its Export Strategy which set out an ambition to increase exports as a proportion of UK GDP from 30% to 35%. We are mindful that much of the potential of UK exporting is contingent on how the Brexit negotiations pan out, but this doesn’t mean the UK shouldn’t be thinking now about the long term.
The strategy provides a solid foundation to the UK’s future economic success, particularly seeing as it incorporates some recommendations from the IoD. In particular, we were pleased with the commitment to set up a digital platform for businesses to submit information relating to market access barriers and an online portal for firms to access exports support. In addition, the pledge to decrease non-tariff barriers outside of free trade agreements is important.
But, as is the case with any policy objective, the success of implementing the Export Strategy depends on it being dealt with in a comprehensive and holistic way. The Government would do well to coordinate its implementation aspects with the relevant Whitehall departments involved, and also to involve business in consultations as much as possible.
With the summer drawing to a close and Parliament poised to return from recess, my schedule is already shaping up to be busy this Autumn, including frequent trips to the IoD’s regions and branches and speaking engagements at home and abroad.
Do keep an eye on our Navigating Brexit Hub for the latest on everything the IoD is doing in this policy area, including webinars, events and articles
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