brexit special Actions for businesses in a post-Brexit world

So, it’s finally happened. The UK has left the EU with both sides managing to agree a last-minute post- Brexit trade deal. What now for the region’s businesses? The Business Magazine’s Tim Wickham asked an accountant, a lawyer, a banker, a recruiter and a manufacturer for their advice, and what they see as the biggest post-Brexit threats and opportunities

Hands up who read all 1,246 pages of the new Free Trade Agreement over the Christmas break? It may be a weighty undertaking, but a good understanding of the rules of new relationships with European trading partners is essential if UK businesses are to take full advantage of the new arrangements, urged David Brookes, tax partner, and Glyn Woodhouse, indirect tax partner, at accountants BDO.

“Businesses need to understand what our new relationship with Europe means in practice. It’s probably fair to say that the Government’s guidance to date was often less than clear in identifying what businesses needed to prepare for. But we expect that to change now the deal is done and has to be implemented,” he said.

Nelson added: “Businesses should keep a close eye on the guidance now being issued by the Government and the relevant regulatory bodies – whether in terms of tax, accounting, employment rights, procurement or public contracts – in order to keep on top of the changes.”

David Brookes Glyn Woodhouse

Focus on your priorities and understand the rules

BDO thinks the priority for businesses should be on preserving customer relationships. “We’re advising clients to consider their position in detail and, in particular, the impact on their customers. Our view is that businesses that will benefit in the new post-Brexit world will be those able to most clearly demonstrate to customers across the EU that they can deliver product as efficiently as competitors within the EU’s boundaries,” said Brookes and Woodhouse.

Getting to grips with the trade deal details is a steep learning curve for everyone, said Aaron Nelson, senior associate at law firm BDB Pitmans, who expects greater clarity will emerge from the Government.

Vehicle transmission specialist and major exporter Xtrac welcomed trading without tariffs and the certainty provided by a trade deal for goods. “In the medium-term, businesses will adapt to the new requirements,” observed Stephen Lane, chief financial officer at Thatcham-based Xtrac.

Stephen Lane

“This may be helped by a weaker pound for those businesses that are large net exporters, but there are likely to be short-term difficulties to overcome.”

For well-prepared companies, January 1 was a date they had been waiting for. “With an agreement in place, businesses can now begin to execute their long-term plans and strategies, as they continue to combat the economic effects of the pandemic,” said Simon Smith, global trade and receivables finance director for HSBC UK in the south.

Aaron Nelson 18

David Brookes Aaron Nelson

Glyn Woodhouse Stephen Lane


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