Brexit and geopolitics closing some doors, but opening others – Grant Thornton

Brexit and geopolitics closing some doors, but opening others – Grant Thornton

The study found that businesses feel that Brexit has hampered international growth, while also creating a less predictable business environment in Europe.

Brexit and geopolitics closing some doors, but opening others – Grant Thornton

Research from Grant Thornton has found that while Brexit and geopolitics has challenged some mid-market UK businesses, it has also brought new trade opportunities.

The firm conducted a study of 300 leaders from UK mid-market businesses that are trading internationally into order to understand how they are reacting to the current global political climate.

The study found that business leaders think that Brexit has hampered international growth, while also creating a less predictable business environment in Europe.

However, another finding was that businesses have been encouraged to explore new markets and develop new products and services in order to counter the negative impact of the impending separation from the EU.

Simon Littlewood, partner and head of growth services at Grant Thornton said: “The findings that Brexit has significantly impacted trading plans for mid-market businesses certainly echoes the conversations we’ve had with our clients – people are bored of Brexit speculation.

“It’s encouraging that so many see Brexit related change as a proactive opportunity and are acting on what they know now and are doing so with confidence in contingency plans ready for various alternate outcomes.

“It’s the perfect time for businesses to take advantage of the changing political climate by taking a step back and re-evaluating their game plan.”

The key findings of the study were:

  • 68% of businesses are more cautious about international growth after Brexit
  • 60% agree Brexit has impacted international business growth
  • 7 in 10 agree that political volatility has created a less predictable business environment in Europe than five years ago
  • 64% believe Brexit has weakened ‘Brand Britain’ and foreign perceptions of Britain have changed
  • 67% say Brexit has caused them to explore new markets
  • 56% prompted to develop new products and services

The current political climate has also encouraged UK businesses to pursue trade opportunities outside of Europe, with 41% looking to Asia and 32% in North America.

Europe remains the top market when it comes to trade opportunities, with 95% of businesses surveyed trading with Europe and 45% saying they have future European trading opportunities.

The US remains attractive due to its supply of talent, legal framework and economy. However its current political situation is causing some uncertainty.

More than half of businesses surveyed (54%) said the Trump administration has discouraged investment in the US and 55% saying the President’s tax and tariff policies are reducing their competitiveness in the US market.

“The US and Asia can present huge opportunities for businesses looking to grow globally and we’ve seen many challenges around cultural understanding and market differences,” said Littlewood.

“Some businesses feel that America is culturally similar to the UK but some buyer behaviour and market strategy is quite different. Many businesses also see the Chinese market as a united entity but it’s actually quite fragmented. That’s why getting the right advice in advance is key.”

  • 57% of those surveyed believe China’s ‘Belt and Road’ investment creates opportunities for their businesses
  • 64% say the USA is a key market for international expansion
  • 69% believe India is more open to international trade now than five years ago

OBR says No-deal Brexit will cause recession

Despite businesses looking for new opportunities in the face of Brexit, life could become more challenging for everyone should a no-deal Brexit occur, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), who have announced that the UK will likely fall into a recession in 2020 were this to happen.

The country’s spending watchdog said that economic growth could fall by 2% by the end of 2020 if the UK was to leave the bloc with no agreement in place, and effectively forego about 18 months of growth in Britain.

This is the watchdog’s first assessment of the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit, and they have said that the economy could contract in 2020 before recovering by 2021.

This has come at the same time as another report has been released that shows that the cost of compensating UK businesses in the event of a no-deal Brexit would cost £22bn a year, contradicting Boris Johnson’s claim that a no-deal would be “vanishingly inexpensive”.

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