Brexit: Seizing opportunity beyond the uncertainty

THERE is no doubt that Brexit is causing uncertainty for businesses. At the recent British Chambers of Commerce Trade Facilitation Forum and International Trade Summit 2017 however, the overriding feeling was one of optimism.

Hundreds of delegates from British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), bilateral and overseas chambers (OBN) as well as small to large scale multi-national businesses attended the events held over two days in October where the speeches, panel sessions, interactive sessions and networking opportunities all had Brexit as a prevailing theme.

Day 1 was mainly attended by BCC and the OBN with discussions on operational aspects and the role that Chambers are playing now and can play going forward post Brexit. We were updated on the work the BCC are doing with the Government, HMT and HMRC whilst they plan and legislate for our exit from the EU.

Day 2 saw the positivity shine through. The keynote speech was delivered by Lord Paul Deighton, chairman of Heathrow Airport and chief executive of the organising committee for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. He spoke about the trust, quality and innovation that is associated with the Great Britain and how these strengths are inherent in the goods and services we produce. These pillars have stood ‘team GB’ in good stead as a trading nation for many hundreds of years, showing even with challenges, we have always come out stronger.

Whether the speakers represented SME’s, multinationals, were ‘young disruptors’, innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, high commissioners, facilitators or CEO’s of trade associations who all approached international trade from different perspective, they all had a positive outlook for growing businesses internationally despite the uncertainty ahead. To them, challenge leads to change, opportunity and innovation. To paraphrase Paul Lindley, CEO and founder of the organic food brand Ella’s Kitchen, we need to concentrate on what we can control, be nimbler, agile and innovative. Essentially, just get on with it.

Whilst scenario planning is essential in any business, some businesses are allocating too many of their resources to analysing and discussing the possible implications of Brexit rather than focussing on what is important – selling, buying and exploring new growth opportunities.

So, what can you control? Many things, for example, increase your global footprint by researching new markets; be nimbler by reviewing your foreign exchange policy or supply chain; streamline your internal policies and processes; review your export and import knowledge and procedures and check your contracts. Businesses should also look at the Market Access Database ( to prepare for potential tariffs, quotas and other requirements.

We came back feeling informed, positive and keen to support our members to take control, be nimbler, agile and innovative as they move forward.

So, if we can help, get in touch - and let’s get on with it.