Our second World Trade Summit in London is coming up fast and you won’t need many guesses as to what the major topic of discussion will be. While the summit last year began to grapple with what the repercussions of Brexit could be, the main conclusion that speakers drew was that it was too early for anyone to say how something as monumental as the UK’s exit from the EU could affect UK trade.
We now know a bit more about the direction it might be taking, though the current standstill in negotiations could be completely altered in 6 months time. It seems likely that there will be some sort of transitional period when the planned-for period of negotiations comes to a close and it continues to look likely that the UK will leave the single market following this.
What the terms of trade between the UK and the EU will be following this is something that is yet to reach the negotiating table.
This year’s theme? Mitigating risk around Brexit
With this in mind, this year’s summit is going to try to tackle what the UK’s exporters can do to mitigate risk around Brexit. Now that we know our trading terms will more almost definitely change within the next few years, speakers will be able to talk more about what UK exporters can do to prepare for these changes. They’ll also discuss how exporters can go about reassuring partners in Europe and around the world that they will continue to be open for international business.
In talking to the members from this year’s world-class panel of speakers, it is evident that sharing insights and know-how is more important than ever.
Brook Horowitz (IBLF Global), who is speaking about ‘Managing risk in emerging markets’, told me that with the shifting trade landscape it is especially vital that businesses make time to constantly update their information regarding the risks and opportunities in international markets. In reference to corruption risk in particular he told me:
“The landscape will be shifting and tilting in all directions. The future of UK-EU relations is far from clear and is unlikely to be stable even after Brexit. Exporters need to constantly weigh up the risks and opportunities. Above all, they need knowledge - local knowledge of markets and partners - and constant and updated information of the risks and opportunities. This is precisely the sort of support the Institute can give”.
The risks to global trade posed by protectionist values
The risks involved in Brexit are multifarious of course, whether they are financial, reputational or legal. Baihas Baghdadi, from summit sponsors Barclays, spoke to me about his view of how exporters should focus their export strategy in a shifting landscape:
“We are hearing more protectionist rhetoric seeking to win public support, such as around the restriction of the use of cheap labour in and from foreign countries. It is possible to see the logic in this strategy but it is one that brings risk to the global trade landscape – it’s important to identify and consider these risks.
However, my message to exporters in this challenging environment is the same as it has always been. Plan ahead - identify the risks of the country you plan to export to; ensure you have the ability to get the finance done before moving too fast; and put in place protection for geopolitical risk and protection from bad debts. These are always the fundamentals when planning an export strategy.”
…and protect your IP
And there are plenty of legal risks for exporters to be conscious of too. Presenting on ‘The Impact of IP on Trade’, Liz Ward from Virtuoso Legal told me the following:
“A lot of what the UK exports is, in fact, in relation to intangible assets. The big problem for many UK companies is they don’t realise how important it is to protect their intellectual property. From an international perspective this raises a number of risks for exporters, a number of which are entirely avoidable.”
The ‘sentimental’ impact
And the biggest risk of all could be reputational. Dmitriy Gilgur (Vimes Consultancy), who is presenting on ‘Eastern Europe, opportunities for export – Ukraine’, told me that the practical implications of Brexit could be overstated. Instead Brexit could have reputational impact that UK exporters will need to overcome by going out of the UK in order to meet and talk to both new and existing partners.
“The sentimental aspect of Brexit cannot be overstated. Having spoken to eastern European businesses, in their mind Brexit is this big scary thing which means that all a sudden trading with UK businesses is going to be much harder. It’s always been that the UK has been a solid market and the rest of the world has been more topsy-turvy. Now it’s the other way round. UK exporters need to be out there reassuring clients and customers that it won’t have much of an impact on how they do business.”
Have a Brexit Insurance Policy
The importance of spreading risk is something Dmitriy is keen to advise on and it’s something that Kathryn Moon from Arhur J Gallagher is also keen on. Kathryn will be talking about the ‘Brexit Insurance Impact’ and had the following top three tips for UK exporters looking to mitigate risk around Brexit:
“1) Review your reliance upon any one country and spread the risk.
2) Ensure the potential impact of Brexit is addressed on the organisations risk register.
3) Review your current insurance programme to ensure the currency fluctuations that the Brexit vote resulted in have been accurately reflected in your sums insured/ values at risk”.
Sign up to the summit for more tips
Certainly, listening to top tips and insights from those who are best placed to advise around the risks that Brexit creates is a must for businesses looking at exporting over the coming years. That’s why events like the World Trade Summits are so important – they are a fantastic opportunity to network and learn from the people whose finger is truly on the pulse of Brexit.
Find out more about the panel of speakers and sign up to attend the World Trade Summit here: http://www.export.org.uk/page/WorldTradeSummit17
With thanks to our event partner: