In confusing trading times, let us be your guide
Stewart Nicol, chief executive, Inverness Chamber of Commerce
International trade can be a complicated arena for businesses no matter their size and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding our relationship with Europe adds another layer of complexity.
Brexit raises the prospect of increasing the bureaucracy and costs involved of trading abroad which can be prohibitive to many small and medium sized companies in the Highlands.
Inverness Chamber of Commerce’s international team is highly regarded nationally and internationally for its ability to support and advise businesses in this complex environment. This is underlined by the fact the chamber’s head of international trade, Ewan Ramsay, has been seconded to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce network to play a key role in their future international strategy.
This is a great personal accolade for Ewan and recognition of his considerable skills and expertise in guiding businesses through an area fraught with potential difficulty.
It is also an acknowledgment that Inverness Chamber and the Highland region are at the forefront of business support in Scotland when it comes to firms planning to trade overseas.
Inverness Chamber International has been specifically designed to help businesses grow by taking advantage of export opportunities. It provides support and advice to companies at all stages of exporting – whether they are experienced in working abroad, completely new to exporting or just exploring options. This embraces a huge range of services relating to imports and exports, duty and VAT rates, documentation and certification and how these will change once the UK leaves the EU.
Our assessments will evaluate the appropriateness of products and services for export and the infrastructure that is in place to support international trade. Bespoke export action plans can be developed to suit the requirements and ambitions of businesses, drawing from any previous export experience, identified markets, specific market knowledge and action points for developing a product or service overseas.
The international team can also assist with technical enquiries and offer export training on why and how to trade internationally.
In addition, Inverness Chamber works with other Highland agencies on the Local Export Partnership which provides SMEs across the Highlands and Islands with increased opportunities to export their goods and services, regardless of their size, sector or location within the region.
Many businesses find this range of tailor-made and enhanced services essential in establishing their readiness. A more thorough and detailed assessment will include reviews of intellectual property risks, trademarks, branding, packaging, pricing, safety certification, customs regulations and relevant legislation.
Brexit is one of the biggest economic changes in a generation and has caused a great deal of unrest among the business community. It will change the way some businesses view trading internationally and could impact on their future strategy and investment.
However, Inverness Chamber, and our partners in the Scottish and British Chambers of Commerce networks, will work to ensure companies have the best available support to continue to sell overseas, while lobbying and campaigning for clarity on the nature of the future relationship with the EU and the concerns of businesses.