Watch the webinar
- Deborah Fraser, Director for Regions, CBI (Chair)
- Fiona Geskes, Principal Policy Advisor, Tax and Fiscal Policy, CBI
- Lord Bilimoria, Vice-President CBI, Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer
- Russell Antram, Principal Policy Advisor, EU Negotiations, CBI.
- As we emerge from pandemic, the focus will be on how SMEs can build international trade opportunities.
- Maintaining trade flows will prove critical. For those businesses that don’t export, this could present an opportunity to drive business growth.
- The impact of the pandemic on international trade has been severe. Trade is estimated to fall by almost 1/3 this year, and export sentiment has fallen at the fastest pace in 60 years.
- Shops are opening today, but activity is returning more slowly.
- The government is stepping up its work on global trade deals. The CBI is working with government on the US/UK Trade deal, and we expect an SME chapter in this. 40% of SME exporters sell to the USA, and SMEs could benefit greatly from the agreement.
- The launch of Australia and New Zealand negotiations are coming up – as well as Japan.
- Business values the continuity of trade, and the big priority is to rollover existing trade deals from our former membership of the EU.
- The CBI is making a push on market access and calling for a ten -year trade strategy that plays to regional strengths and supports the whole of the UK
- The UK is one of the best places to start up and grow a business and I will always be grateful for the support I had in setting up in the UK.
- Guidance on the second phase of the JRS landed on Friday, with detail on flexible furlough and the tapered return to work:
- From 1 July, employees must have been furloughed for three consecutive weeks between 30 March and 13 June to be eligible
- From 1 July, employees can pay staff for hours worked and part-furlough for the rest. This must be agreed between the employee/employer and confirmed in writing
- There will be a cap on how many employees can be furloughed and claimed for.
- No change to the maximum grant amount, but from 1 August it will move to a mix of government subsidy and employer contributions.
- Progress in the negotiations has been limited, and both sides have stood firm on key issues:
- ‘Level playing field’ – The EU want the UK to keep to EU standards and to have to codify this in law. The UK would also stay locked in to EU State Aid rules. The UK is rejecting this because there’s no precedent for such a transfer of autonomy for a trade deal
- Fishing – This is present in all EU trade deals and is a more emotive issue than a financial one. Access to UK fishing waters is a big issue for lots of EU member states.
- We need to resolve these ‘gateway’ issues before moving onto technical issues. June has long been earmarked as an important deadline, as it’s the deadline for the UK requesting an extension. However, the government has no plans to do this.
- The Prime Minister has sat down with Ursula von der Leyen to ‘inject momentum’ into the negotiations, and further talks will take place every week until the end of July.
- Surviving in the age of CV has obviously taken priority, and Brexit has fallen down the pecking order. Businesses, it could be argued, are less prepared for a no deal scenario than ever.
Key questions we answered:
- What is the CBI doing for small businesses in its conversations with DIT?
- The CBI has ensured that SME priorities have been voiced in the development of trade agreements.
- A fairly simple but significant ask is that SME chapters feature in all of the UK’s trade deals.
- With the US, both sides have been engaged in an SME dialogue for the last couple of years, hearing from small business on market access issues on both sides, and we’ve been pushing for that to be formalised. And we are actively encouraging UK SMEs operating in Japan to share their asks of the Japan FTA with us, so that we can feed this back to government.
- Whether making customs procedures more straightforward, reducing tariffs, addressing regulatory issues or making it easier to move staff across borders, there are wide ranging benefits to be had in trade deals.
- How can trade support the levelling up agenda and regional growth?
- International trade and investment can really boost productivity levels across the UK, through exposure to higher demands and diversity of international consumer markets and competition, which can drive regional innovation, skills and talent, and bring in further investment into the regions. This can improve infrastructure and connectivity to facilitate further trade.
- We are seeing Local Industrial Strategies focused on attracting international trade and investment, which can help to increase productivity and deliver inclusive growth that benefits all communities.
- It’s estimated that improving regional productivity could add £200bn to our economy over the next decade, lifting pay packets and raising living standards. By empowering local investment and decision-making, every region in the UK can benefit from national prosperity.
- What is the view from the EU side, what’s our insight from Brussels?
- The negotiations have fallen down the EU27’s to do list. Recent press conferences still have an element of finger-pointing. We’re approaching an important moment as the negotiations are stuck and require leadership to get them moving.
- There’s agreement on the EU side that leaving negotiations to the last minute isn’t ideal. On 1 July Germany will take the presidency of the EU Council. They will need to agree the Multi-Annual Financial framework (7-year spending commitments) and also the bailout money for coronavirus.