"It is evident that our members need clear decisions to come from Government about our future trading arrangements so they can get on with business and negotiate lasting deals"
Liverpool of Commerce members at their quarterly International Trade Club have expressed the need for Government to provide a clear roadmap for Brexit to restore confidence in the export market. Club members warned that although there are companies around the globe looking to invest in Liverpool and its businesses, the deadlock in Westminster is leading to delays in deals being completed.
The International Trade Club includes representatives from Liverpool’s biggest businesses that are trading overseas. The members reported that the political uncertainty was causing significant challenges, with international buyers being cautious about the prospect of World Trade Organisation tariffs being applied to UK goods within the next six months.
Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, said:
"Whatever those future terms are, it is clarity that will help them most to prepare and continue to trade successfully overseas post-Brexit.”
The group expressed their frustration that there is still no obvious direction for the terms on which the UK will leave the European Union and that, despite plenty of post-Brexit planning by companies, uncertainty was affecting cash flow for businesses now as well as in the future.
Chairman of the International Trade Club, Denis Sowler of Tithebarn Ltd, stated:
“Since the end of March when we were due to leave the EU, businesses have been left frustrated at the lack of direction from Government on this crucial issue. It is no surprise that the inactivity has led our trading partners to become tentative when they know the terms may alter significantly months from now.”
Chamber members benefit from regular access to expert briefings and the Trade Club round table also included a keynote speech from John Griffiths, International Trade Development liaison officer at HMRC. He outlined what companies may need to do in the event of a day one ‘No Deal’ Brexit. This included logistics, easements and special procedures to maintain future trading arrangements with countries in the EU and the rest of the world.
Following the HMRC briefing, Liverpool Chamber member Richard Hogg, tax director from accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, explained:
“Although the transitional and simplified procedures that HMRC has already announced on imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario provide some clarity for businesses, it is the political uncertainty around our future relationship with the EU and other trading partners that is the major concern. Until there’s clarity on this point, business confidence and investment will continue to be affected.”
The meeting was held at Clarke Energy in Knowsley, a specialist in the engineering, installation and maintenance of engine-based power plants with operations in 25 countries across the world. The company contributes significantly to the local economy through local employment and procurement. International trade is a major part of its business, contributing 66% of its turnover.
Alex Marshall, group marketing and compliance director at Clarke Energy and Northern Powerhouse Export Champion said:
“We were pleased to host Liverpool Chamber’s International Trade Club which is quickly becoming a key forum for companies in the city region who are trading overseas. It’s hugely beneficial to meet with peers and discuss the issues we’re facing across all sectors and to be briefed by experts in Government.”