It's time to get serious about Brexit - report from the Leeds World Trade Summit

Fri 13 Sept 2019
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

leeds world trade summit

On Thursday 12th September 2019, the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) took its World Trade Summit programme to Leeds for the first time as part of Chamber International’s Global Business Expo 2019. This collaboration saw trade experts from across both organisations and the wider support landscape give a packed room of exporters advice on a broad range of key global trade topics and international markets. 

With Brexit very much dominating the headlines at the time, causing continued perplexity and uncertainty for UK businesses. Businesses needed information about what the potential impact of a No Deal Brexit could be and support on how to mitigate it. As ever, the speakers at the World Trade Summit showed that exporting will continue to be doable after Brexit -  whatever its form - but warned that planning and skill would be essential for doing it successfully, cost-effectively and compliantly.

A morning’s tour around the world

The morning agenda comprised of market specialists from across the network of bilateral chambers covering several of the most potentially lucrative markets for UK exporters post Brexit. Some of the markets covered included India, Thailand, China, Brazil, the USA, Singapore, Egypt, the UAE, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The size and the scale of opportunity in many of these markets was the key message from the majority of speakers, who were also keen to show that emerging markets will continue to dominate future global economic growth. Chamber International then facilitated several one-to-one meetings between delegates and speakers over lunch.

Showing them how it’s done

Following a morning that showcased the opportunities that are out there for the UK’s exporters, the IOE&IT’s afternoon summit showed them how to go about entering these markets.

Lesley Batchelor OBE (Director General - IOE&IT) discussed some of the significant changes that Brexit will likely bring around - particularly concerning paperwork for clearing Customs and Rules of Origin - but was keen to point out that support is on hand. She noted the government grant funding that’s being provided for businesses to learn key Customs processes - including completing Customs declarations - and some of the training courses provided by the IOE&IT that are fundable by it.

Jana Horvath-Pocciova (Export Finance Manager - UK Export Finance) raised the ever-expanding support that UKEF are providing to UK businesses and the case study speaker, Keith Jackson (CEO - Brandon Medicals), was indeed one such person to have utilised it. Keith noted that exporting had taken him around the world, including on trade missions with former PM David Cameron in China. 

moneycorp at the leeds world trade summit

Brexit - people, Customs, IP and currency

Though Brexit has long dominated the agenda at our regional summits, the Leeds summit came at a time when businesses really did need to treat it seriously and properly engage with the impact it could have. Andy Dobson (Head of Sales (Northern) - Moneycorp) noted that businesses needed to be taking steps to mitigate the potential swings that the pound could have in the autumn due to a potential ‘no deal’, while Arta Heath (Managing Director - MyUKVisas) talked through the ramifications it could have on the human side of business - i.e. visas and settled status for current and future employees.

Kirsten Toft (Vice Principal - Virtuoso Legal) gave an overview of one of the less discussed areas around Brexit in terms of how it could affect UK businesses’ IP. She noted that businesses needed to be doing a full IP audit, seeking proper legal advice on how Brexit could affect their intangible assets.

Stephanie Holmes (Senior VAT manager - Grant Thoronton) then covered some of the more prevalent issues around Brexit in Customs and VAT. She covered the need for companies to ensure they know their EORI number, understand how to complete Customs Declarations, while also covering the potential benefits of AEO (Authorised Economic Operator status) and TSPs (Transitional Simplified Procedures).

Together with Chamber International’s morning expo, the Summit provided delegates with sufficient information and encouragement to be positive about trade post Brexit, but all who attended will have gone home fully aware that there was plenty to be done to ensure their businesses are fully prepared.