Manchester Summit Showcases Export Optimism Despite Brexit Uncertainty

Thu 14 Mar 2019
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

barry leahey at the manchester world trade summit

The Institute’s second World Trade Summit of 2019 took place on March 13th at The Growth Company’s offices in Stretford. Sponsored by NatWest, the summit took place the day after parliament rejected Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement for the second time. Certain to say, the atmosphere around Brexit remained uncertain.

Plenty of opportunities for exporters in the region

Nonetheless, our members and support organisations from the region gathered to share thoughts and best practice around how to succeed in international trade, come what may. The event was compered by our Director of Business Development Richard Bartlett, who opened proceedings by discussing some of the planning businesses should be doing to prepare for all eventualities around Brexit. He also spoke of the increase in opportunities available to UK businesses in export, making the point that global trade in general has been growing rapidly over the last few decades.

This point was echoed by Susan Cordoba, Head of International Trade at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Susan spoke of how there is significant growth in emerging markets all over the planet, from South East Asia to India to Africa. The exporter case study for the summit – Barry Leahey MBE from Playdale Playgrounds Ltd – spoke of how these opportunities can be grasped when high-quality products are combined with a ‘can do’ attitude and in-depth market research. He noted that if you don’t want to go out on a plane to meet potential customers or partners in new markets, then you really shouldn’t be looking at exporting all, such is the importance of forming long lasting relationships in international trade.

Supply Chain Visibility is Key

NatWest’s David Salter discussed the importance of having proper visibility over your supply chains – something that applies both domestically and internationally. Having an awareness of stock flows and ensuring you have payment terms and contracts that cover all parts of your supply chain were key tasks for exporters he noted. Documentation is another a key element of exporting, and David MacMillan from Bollore Logistics was on hand to address how companies can work with their freight forwarders to ensure goods move overseas compliantly and seamlessly. He also addressed the potential impacts that the introduction of CDS could have, as well as addressing the looming threat of Brexit, noting that the workload for freight forwarders could increase by almost 500% in the event of a no-deal.

Intelligent technological solutions are undoubtedly going to form a key part of how businesses look to manage and simplify such export requirements going forwards. Adam Kasraoui from Bolero International addressed the digitalisation of international trade, giving an insight to the SAAS solutions his business provides in the shipping industry.

Finally, Philip Partington from Virtuoso Legal addressed the various impacts that Brexit could have on IP for UK businesses – particularly around trade marks and designs. IP is a vital element of the UK economy, given that the number of businesses selling intangible assets superseded the number selling tangibles back in 2014.

Optimism remains despite Brexit

Though each of the speakers addressed the significant uncertainty that Brexit was causing at the time of the summit, there remained an optimism about the opportunities available to UK businesses in international trade. Richard Bartlett rounded off the summit by reminding delegates that the Institute is on hand to help those who are interested in international trade through its training, qualification and membership offerings.