The months of July and August see much of Northern Europe take vacation - always a time to recharge batteries, spend time with family, escape from family or enjoy some intentional solitude.
Many who choose to 'staycate' will have enjoyed an exceptional spell of weather and experienced the increasingly polished UK tourist experience. Whether one switches off from news or takes more time to digest it on holiday is more about choice than availability – gone are the days of paying for the overseas edition of an English language publication or battling with the linguistic challenges of the local newspaper.
Recent headlines for business and geopolitics have invariably featured Brexit, cultural sensitivities, sanctions and 'trade wars'. All of these make sobering reading and provoke considerable thought for anyone involved in international trade, wrestling with all the associated challenges and opportunities.
Before diving into the post-holiday must do list, these headlines perhaps provide a few useful thoughts when assessing existing and new markets:
- Brexit remains uncertain and is likely to remains so in the short term. Few businesses can directly influence the outcome and the best advice is probably to be aware of the range of possibilities, commit time to scenario planning and focus on remaining optimistic - there is a future!
- International business will undergo further transformation as disruptive technologies and associated business practices are adopted. People will always have a place in the relationships and taking time to respect and understand a different culture is a long term investment. Remaining curious and showing intelligent interest in other cultures is often the bedrock of long term relationships.
- Early August saw the implementation of the first phase of the US sanctions on Iran. Time will tell whether or not there is a rapprochement between the countries but for the moment it must be assumed that business with Iran will at best be complicated and must only be embarked upon with clear professional advice and a full understanding of the background and connections of all parties involved.
- The oilfield services sector lives and breathes the supply of goods and services on a global basis. Taxes, tariffs, duties and associated charges are a fact of life but must be understood in context. Take time to ensure that they are understood and that, where possible, contractual protections are in place to mitigate the impact of changes or impositions of new charges.
Keep the refreshed batteries charged and good luck in the autumn chase for new business before thoughts turn to what 2019 might bring.