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Published: 23 october 2019 09:00

UK businesses unprepared for Brexit

Lithuanian and British flags
Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania / Lithuanian and British flags

British Chambers of Commerce sit at the heart of a unique network of businesses across the UK, helping to shape the UK’s business agenda for more than 150 years. Now for the first time The British Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania (BCCL), along with 48 other British Chambers from across the world, have been united under the network. The BCCL now feeds into a UK network that alone represents a membership of 70,000 businesses across 55 accredited UK chambers. This means if one was to meet 10 businesses a day it would take over 29 years to visit every single one.

At the National Assembly and Annual General Meeting a number of clear messages were heard. Senior business leaders, executives and chairpersons, reiterated the point British businesses are unprepared for Brexit.

Negotiations around the UK’s withdrawal from, and future relationship with, the European Union continue to dominate the UK political landscape. BCC study shows major gaps in official Brexit guidance for businesses in the event of ‘no deal’. The Chamber Network is primarily focused on assessing the practicalities of Brexit for business communities across the UK and helping them to prepare.

The British Chambers of Commerce  published an evaluation of official UK Government guidance to businesses on critical operational issues in the event of an unwanted ‘no deal’ exit on 31st October. At the time of publication, 31 of 36 business-critical areas are still marked amber or red, indicating that firms have incomplete or insufficient information available to plan thoroughly for a ‘no deal’ outcome.

Furthermore, BCC survey shows potential impact of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on UK business investment, recruitment intentions. The British Chambers of Commerce published new research demonstrating some of the potential real-world consequences of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on the 31st of October. A survey of over 1,500 companies - covering of all sizes and sectors of business, across the UK - found that in the event of a ‘no deal’ exit on 31st October, nearly a quarter of firms surveyed (24%) say they would revise investment plans down, while just 4% would revise up. 71% of respondents did not state that they would revise investment plans.

What does it mean for business and opportunities for Lithuania? Already there are skills shortages in the UK and in many key areas this will continue to grow post-Brexit. An adaptable education system in Lithuania offering joint international degrees could see major UK businesses outsourcing skilled and professional work flows to Lithuania.

Access to the single market will inevitably see UK companies establishing offices and subsidiaries across the EU. The opportunity to “sell” Lithuania as a destination for UK business has arguably never been greater. The British Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania is now actively formulating the process of “Twinning” with UK Chambers of Commerce to help expedite trade and raise the profile of Lithuania. This is not only the case for selected regions but also by business sectors. At the heart of the agenda is creating a framework for 2-way trade and connectivity across the UK and Lithuania.

The final overriding message: Many senior business leaders are raising the issue of “Climate Crisis”. The UK has seen climatic events not witnessed in the same scale across Lithuania, such as coastal erosion at unprecedented rates and heavy flooding. These have high financial costs on businesses. Increasingly the message is for business to take action through carbon neutral and circle economy programmes. What opportunities exist for Lithuania to play a role is still early to say, yet vast expanses of undeveloped land and clean air cannot be unrecognised.


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