Business Brexit Priorities

Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce wrote the following article for the Press & Journal. It appeared in the first of of a six part series on what Brexit will mean for the United Kingdom. 

"As one of only seven Chambers in Scotland accredited to both Scottish and British Chambers, Inverness Chamber of Commerce has remained very close to the Brexit debate since the vote last June.

Brexit is as much, if not more, of a concern for business as it is for domestic matters, and as the country’s leading representatives of industry and trade, Chambers have an enormous role to play in helping all regions of the UK prepare for the changes ahead.  Inverness Chamber of Commerce is particularly well placed to support the Highland business community, given the success of our Inverness Chamber International service which we have developed over the last few years.

This is why the British Chamber has published a new paper, Business Brexit Priorities, outlining new research findings and recommendations for the government ministers and agencies taking us through this process.

This informative document collates in-person feedback from over 400 businesses operating in 16 Chamber communities as well as responses from 20,000 survey submissions. This makes it a leading guide to the ambitions and concerns of the UK business community.

It also highlights seven key themes that underpin the UK’s future ability to trade, invest, flourish and grow - trade, customs, taxation, regulation, labour market, EU funding and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

These themes are at the top of Chamber members’ agendas as they decide whether to invest more in the European market, change their approach to selling into the region or redirect their focus to alternative markets over the coming years.

Regardless of their plans, it’s imperative that the UK negotiates the best deal possible and remains mindful of the fact that it is businesses that trade, not governments.

That is why the Chambers of Commerce movement has taken a pragmatic approach towards the UK’s withdrawal from Europe.  I firmly believe Brexit will provide significant and numerous opportunities for the Highland business community.

Scotland’s businesses will continue to trade with businesses in Europe and elsewhere in the world, no matter what agreement is ultimately reached.  However, it is in our economic and business interests that there is clarity around the process, an opportunity for the business voice to be heard, and that the eventual deal is one which champions the interests of free trade.

Our members are clear that what they want is a deal which keeps tariff barriers at a minimum and which continues to ensure that non-tariff barriers, such as regulation, promote ease of compliance.  Businesses want clarity on the futures of their EU staff and also need to be able to plan for their future talent needs, whether they are sourced domestically or internationally.  They also want clarity around which EU funding arrangements will remain in place and which will be replaced by new domestic schemes.

Whilst some of this information may not be clear until the deal with the EU is ultimately complete, businesses need and expect clarity on what will happen following the triggering of Article 50 and how things will be managed during any transitional period following the deadline for EU withdrawal.  The UK Government has been clear on the starting point for negotiations, but not the ends it is seeking to achieve. 

Chambers of Commerce, including Inverness, will continue to engage fully with both the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure that the whole of Scotland’s business voice is heard throughout."

To read Business Brexit Priorities, visit www.britishchambers.org.uk/policy-maker/policy-reports-and-publications/business-brexit-priorities.html

For more information about the services and support provided by Inverness Chamber of Commerce, visit www.inverness-chamber.co.uk/international