ICC and CBI publish Brexit guide for UK SME exporters

News | 30 November 2016


The ICC and CBI have joined forces to publish a useful guide aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses in the UK navigate Brexit. Aimed at providing clarity around the EU trade negotiations, A guide to future UK trade negotiations lays out a timeframe of the upcoming negotiations and provides practical, independent advice and insights from foreign investors and expert trade negotiators. Reiterating the importance of transitional agreements, the guide aims to help businesses effectively plan – as well as manage risks and opportunities – over the next two to three years.

A spokesperson from General Electric commented in the publication, “The UK’s formal exit of the EU will bring about policy, legislative and regulatory changes in the UK, and potentially also in the EU. The ultimate shape that Brexit will take is far from certain and it will be some time before the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU are known. These terms will also determine which changes will be made to UK policy, legislation and regulation.”

“A stable UK-EU relationship is a global economic priority,” said Chris Southworth, secretary general of ICC UK. “A lot is at stake in terms of jobs, investment and standards of living, so it is important that businesses of all sizes feel properly informed to make the right decisions at the right time. Given the size and complexity of coming negotiations, transitional arrangements are crucial should timeframes overrun – giving businesses confidence to plan ahead without fearing sudden increases in cost or unnecessary red tape.”

“As the UK looks to forge a new future with our European partners, firms of all sizes are keen to understand the opportunities, and risks, this new landscape presents both for trade within and outside Europe,” added Paul Drechsler CBE, CBI president. “This simple guide to trade negotiations for small and medium-sized businesses should be a helpful tool for companies up and down the country, and inspire firms to help each other by sharing their expertise and knowledge.”

Launched on 23 November 2016 in London,  guide can be downloaded from the ICC Banking Commission website here.

See also the Brexit panel debate chaired by TFR editor in chief Clarissa Dann at BAFT Chicago, Reality or Delusion?

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Brexit checklist for UK SMEs

With a number of uncertainties and a long road ahead for the UK’s trading future, firms need to be considering the impacts as early as possible. Some key considerations to be assessing about your business are:

Trading until the UK leaves the EU

Your trading arrangements will remain unchanged until the UK formally leaves the EU. Are you capitalising on the opportunities available to you under the current regime?

Chronology of negotiations

Risks and opportunities will change depending on what stage of negotiations the UK is in. Have you mapped your company risk and opportunities across this timeline?


Customers, employees, suppliers and investors may all be receiving different and patchy information, particularly if they are overseas. Have you reviewed your communication strategy to help keep everyone informed?

Market fluctuations

The UK could be facing a prolonged period of uncertainty. Have you taken adequate advice on how to protect your company against any sudden volatility in the market (e.g. currency movements)?


Understanding international trade rules and agreements is likely to become a more important skill for businesses when the UK leaves the EU. Have you assessed whether your business has the right skills for the future?

Business relationships

Keeping up to date with trustworthy information and staying close to the dialogue with government will be important in helping to understand the opportunities and manage the risks. Have you mapped your business relationships and assessed if any new relationships are needed?


Regulatory compliance is likely to feature as a significant consideration in both the negotiations with the EU and future negotiations with non-EU countries interested in liberalising trade. Have you assessed where your business is currently exposed to compliance procedures and how this might change with different regulators?

Supply chain

Changes to the trading relationship between the UK and the EU and the rest of the world will likely alter the application of tariffs, customs procedures and regulation to products and services in your supply chain. Have you considered the origin and transit routes of your supply chain and how your partners might adapt to these changes?


Source: A guide to future UK trade negotiations

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