Sketching a blueprint for Britain - a preview of our South West trade summit

Tue 27 Jun 2017
Posted by: IOE News
IOE News

summit meeting audience

Our next World Trade Summit is taking place in Plymouth this July and it is set to be another fascinating day of thought leadership and networking. Following the Northern Ireland summit, which looked at how companies can best plan for Brexit, the South West summit will again look at the UK’s exit from the EU through the motif of sketching a ‘blueprint for Global Britain’.

For companies in the region, it is a great opportunity to hear from British business’ key players and thinkers on the opportunities that Brexit could create and their role in helping the government to shape the country’s future trading climate.

Engaging in networks and sharing information

We’re running the summit in partnership with the University of Plymouth’s Institute for Social, Policy and Enterprise Research  (ISPER) department, as part of both our commitments to raising the skills of those involved in international trade. Professor Jingjing Xu, from the University of Plymouth, told us that high quality research has a massive role to play in informing and shaping the post-Brexit landscape. He also told us that it is vital that businesses come together to share their views and skills, with the academic community as well, as the country comes together to sketch a new blueprint for Britain.

“Academic research has revealed that employers who regularly engage in business networks are more likely to find out, and be in a position to exploit, new business opportunities as they arise,” he told us.

“In addition, from our perspective as an academic institution, we feel it is important that businesses are aware of new findings and developments in academic research which may go on either to inform their own business practices, or the policy and regulatory environment in which they operate. This is particularly important in the context of Brexit where the UK’s changing relationship with the EU will see the onset of both new opportunities and challenges for businesses looking to export, or import.”

Staying up-to-date with the opportunities and challenges in trade, as Brexit unravels, is also of the utmost importance for British businesses.

“In an increasingly competitive and uncertain environment it will be critical for businesses to keep abreast of new innovations and emerging market opportunities,” Professor Xu told us.

Barrier-free trade with the EU

Certainly, among the talking points at the summit will be discussion of what UK businesses want from the government’s negotiations for leaving the EU. Stephen Dilley, Partner at Bond Dickinson LLP, who will be presenting on ‘Brexit and the law’, told us that businesses will want to see a barrier-free relationship with the EU.

“From a business perspective, I'd like to see a barrier-free relationship with the EU, a migration system which allows business sufficient access to the skills and labour they need to be able to grow, and a smoothly managed exit which avoids the disruption of a cliff-edge situation,” he told us.

This certainly backs up the views of our members and followers in our recent ‘1 year on from Brexit’ survey and one of the other key findings from that survey was that businesses are now planning for the different potential outcomes of Brexit – something Stephen will also be exploring.

The ‘Global Britain’ message

One of the key messages trickling down to business is the need to spread risk and approach new markets following Brexit, as part of the government’s ‘Global Britain’ motif. Many of the speakers in the South West will indeed be delving into some of the opportunities beyond the EU for UK businesses.

“Opening new markets is inevitable for British businesses after Brexit,” Iman El Sherif, Secretary General at the The Egpytian British Business Chamber of Commerce, told us.

“This is definitely the case in areas where labour is cheap, fairly close in destination to Britain, where there is appreciation for British expertise and knowledge, and finally in a place which is surrounded by huge populations and good purchasing power despite economic problems,” he added.

“Business potential in emerging markets, no doubt, is always present and this is why, despite the political turmoil which Egypt has recently come out of, Britain remains the biggest foreign investor in Egypt.”

The need to look beyond the EU is echoed by Siddharth Mukne, Regional Head at the UK India Business Council.

“I would like to see more UK companies start exporting to fastest growing economies like India, China, South East Asia where huge opportunities across sectors are available for UK businesses,” he told us.

The ‘Online Agenda’

And one of the other key areas for UK businesses to invest in and plan for in the post-Brexit trade landscape is their online business. John Worthington, CEO at IBT Online, told us that the ‘top priority’ in sketching a Global Britain blueprint has to be ‘the online agenda’.

He will be talking about ‘website localization and international online marketing services to help UK companies grow their exports, sales, brands and businesses online globally’ at the summit. 

A world-class line up

As should be evident, the summit has a world-class line up of speakers, also including Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Tim Jones, chairman of Devon & Cornwall Business Council, and Richard Holt, Director at Creative Innovation Centre CIC.