A year of opportunity

THE Scottish Government now estimates that Scotland’s economy will be £12.7bn a year worse off if the UK were to leave the EU with no deal, prompting renewed speculation about another independence referendum.

The international stage is an uncertain place at the moment or maybe we are simply more aware of global instability due to regional volatilities.

Who can honestly tell how Brexit will shake out? But what we can be sure about is that Aberdeen’s resilient business community – just emerging from the turbulence of a lengthy oil price downturn - is in a better position than most economies to weather the storm heading our way.

Generations of business people from the North-east have prospered in international trade, from merchants such as Robert Gordon and his ilk, trading in granite, fish, cereals, livestock, whisky and other local products, through to today's exporters of oil and gas know-how, technology, equipment and highly skilled labour.

Without doubt the North-east continues to be one of the most “internationalised” economies in the UK and many of the measures that businesses need to take to counter the impact of Brexit are the same decisions which are required to remain competitive at home and in the international markets where Aberdeen is so widely represented.

Only three weeks into 2018 and now is as good a time as any to get housekeeping in order to maximise opportunities in international trade. Immigration and movement of people, work visas, movement of goods, international customs requirements and tax treaties are all areas which remain high on the agenda, Brexit or not.

Finding the right match in a JV partner and negotiating the trading, tax and employment legislation in that partner’s home country raises challenges which are best addressed with the assistance of experienced advisors. And those same advisors should be on the top of their game to ensure businesses are meeting the requirements of anti-corruption and bribery legislation and staying on the right side of relevant international trade sanctions which may apply.

In multi-jurisdictional matters, Pinsent Masons’ international reach is a reassuring confidence booster for firms picking their way through the minefield that is today’s regulatory environment and we can minimise the risk, while maximising the opportunities which lie ahead for ambitious growth-focussed enterprises.

2018 is a year of opportunity for those with the right "mind-set" and support.