6 November 2017


#CBI2017 Blog: Beyond Brexit - The future of UK trade

What lies in store for the future of British trade? Insights from our fringe event at #CBI2017 Annual Conference

#CBI2017 Blog: Beyond Brexit - The future of UK trade

The CBI and JLL, the global investment management and real estate specialists, this morning hosted trade experts from across the globe. Among the myriad issues discussed, businesses challenged panellists to explain:

  • What work the Government is doing to develop a long-term trade strategy
  • Where companies should consider investing
  • What the future UK-EU trade relationship will look like

The Department for International Trade’s Chief Negotiator, Crawford Falconer, stressed Government’s position at the start of a process to engage and consult business on trade priorities across different sectors. He noted that there’s plenty of work to do, as, alongside countries such as Japan and Canada, many other trading partners are keen to get down to business.

Both companies and Government alike highlighted the chance to grow the UK’s links across Southeast Asia. European economies currently out-perform UK trade to the region, while the US has invested more in ASEAN collectively than China, India, Japan and North Korea. With a market size of 630 million consumers, the region represents a huge commercial opportunity for the future, and one that UK businesses have failed to tap into to date.

But before looking further afield, firms - from both the UK and overseas – want to understand what the trade relationship with the EU will actually look like. Representing the Embassy of Japan in the UK, and the 1000+ Japanese companies based here, Shuichi Akamatsu, noted that a transition period will be absolutely critical to give business time to adapt to new arrangements and to ease uncertainty.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to a future trade deal, attendees questioned the Government’s decision to rule out membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union so early, suggesting that the likely alternative would be a trade agreement along no deeper than the EU-Canada deal, CETA.