Business Brexit Priorities

Friday 31 March 2017

The British Chambers of Commerce has published a business blueprint for the UK government ahead of the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Since the historic referendum result last June, Chambers of Commerce have been in deep consultation with local business communities across the United Kingdom – to ensure that, together, we are addressing the key business priorities for the UK government’s Brexit negotiations.

As part of this process, we have taken in-person feedback from over 400 businesses, in 16 Chamber business communities, on the potential challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. Since the referendum vote, we have also received nearly 20,000 responses to Chamber surveys, giving us granular information on the needs and expectations of businesses of every size, sector, nation and region.
This document sets out the key priorities for Chamber member businesses in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

These priorities are resolutely practical – focused on ensuring that UK business communities can continue to trade, invest, flourish and grow. Seven key themes – trade, customs, taxation, regulation, labour market, EU funding, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – are at the top of Chamber members’ agenda.

Our most recent International Trade Survey, published in January 2017, showed that over a third of businesses plan on putting even more resources into the European market over the next five years. Another third said they have no plans to change their approach to selling into Europe, and only four percent said they plan to put fewer resources into selling to the region. So it is imperative that the government negotiates the best deal it can with the EU for UK businesses, mindful of the fact that Europe will remain a key market for UK firms for years to come.

These results are also an important reminder that it is businesses that trade, not governments. And it will be businesses’ ability to respond to forthcoming changes – identifying and seizing new opportunities – that will shape our future relationship with both the EU and the rest of the world.

It is also crucially important to establish the best possible domestic business conditions to help firms respond to the changes ahead.
Brexit is just one of many concerns for Chamber business communities across the United Kingdom. Broadband and mobile connections are patchy. There is an ever-growing skills shortage across all levels, from hospitality to engineering. And the growing burden of upfront costs is preventing far too many businesses from growing, hiring, and exporting. Addressing these fundamental business conditions is just as – if not more – important as the shape of the future deal with the EU.

The Prime Minister has set out her objectives for negotiation, but ultimately, the practical outcomes are what matter to businesses.
The priorities set out in this document – from 52 Chamber business communities, representing 75,000 firms with five million employees across the UK – represent what businesses of all sizes and sectors want HM Government to achieve over the coming months.

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