A vibrant line up of industry specialists and experts at our exclusive World Trade Summit 2016, ‘The Commonwealth & Beyond’ on October 12th at Gresham College, London, gave delegates much to think about.
Examining the ever changing business environment, the event discussed the big issues that businesses and the government must get to grips with in shaping international trade – export opportunities, dealing with Brexit and globalisation.
In an upbeat message, keynote speaker, Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council and former government Trade Envoy, said that exporting should become part of UK companies’ DNA again, after relying on strong domestic markets for too long. He also said that we must consider new export markets as part of our contingency planning.
Adding that the Commonwealth, which has a third of the world’s population, offers huge opportunities, he reported that cultural, language and legal links make it 19% cheaper for member countries to deal with each other than with other nations.
Other speakers urged delegates to consider South America and Russia as export locations. They raised awareness of the opportunities for UK firms in these regions, but a big message was that even in the age of globalisation, people buy from people – so exporters must visit target markets and meet potential customers.
With that in mind, they were reminded that the IOE is in a unique position to help them because of its role to educate and inform.
Speakers left the audience in no doubt about the complexity of the Brexit process, as well as the uncertainty that would prevail while it was going on and possible problems following departure.
These included the fact that the UK must negotiate an individual membership with the World Trade Organisation that will have to be agreed by all 164 members, as well as the lack of international appetite for free trade agreements – and little experience within government for convening them.
IOE Director General, Lesley Batchelor OBE, said: “Heavyweight thought leadership, practical tips on entering new markets and lively debate certainly gave our audience insight to today’s complex international trade environment, with something of interest for everyone who attended.
“We were particularly glad that the themes encouraged lively discussion between audience and speakers, as a key aim of the event was to give exporters the chance to voice their opinions and concerns publicly.”
Feedback from attendees was universally positive. Select Airline Management director, David Lee, commented: “A very interesting range of speakers gave a broad overview of the issues we face with Brexit, which I found very beneficial.”
IOE graduate, Vineeta Manchanda, added: “The quality of speeches and their relevance was outstanding and definitely left me with food for thought.”
A post-event drinks reception offered networking opportunities and delegates and speakers arranged follow up meetings to exchange news, tips and opinion.