There is a huge opportunity—if businesses can successfully negotiate this period of changeby Tina Hallett / April 24, 2017 / Leave a comment
Earlier this month, I hosted the second in a series of events exploring the changing landscape of UK trade beyond Brexit. Back in November, when we welcomed Gus O’Donnell and a panel of experts, our focus was on how negotiations might work, what roles parliament and Whitehall would play after the general election, and what the outcomes might be.
Six months later, we have more clarity. Article 50 has been triggered and we know we won’t remain in the Single Market or the Customs Union as we know it today. In their places, we will seek to forge our own “frictionless” trade deals not only with the EU but also across the world.
It was in this context that I convened a follow up event with the Australian High Commissioner, the Hon Alexander Downer; Lesley Batchelor, the Director General of the Institute of Export and International Trade; John Grant, Former British Ambassador to the European Union and PwC adviser; and one of our international tax experts Panny Loucas. The discussion was chaired by Michael Moore, Former Secretary of State for Scotland and also a PwC adviser.
What particularly struck me from the discussion was the need to balance a high level approach to trade policy with the granular detail of what changes businesses need to advocate for and be ready for post-Brexit.
Trade policy is undoubtedly important. Tariffs, quotas and non-tariff barriers will be set around the negotiating table and they will dictate how and where we trade. For the Australian High Commissioner, Brexit is an opportunity to create freer trade across the world. He called on the UK to avoid becoming too mercantilist in our approach and gave a useful reminder that it is not only exports that need to be addressed but also imports and investment. He sees Brexit as a way for the UK to open up new markets and create new terms around relationships with existing trading partners, like Australia.
Whilst getting these rules right is of vital importance, it is equally important to understand the detail. What will Brexit will mean in practical terms? How can we get businesses—large and small—ready for…