On March 8, 2018, Count Paul Buysse, Chair of the Federal Government’s High Level Group on Brexit, and Alison Rose, UK Ambassador to Belgium, shared their unique insights with our members on the impact of Brexit on UK-Belgian trade and investment relations.
Today, it has been 629 days since British voters opted for “Leave”, 350 days since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, the legal mechanism for withdrawing from the European Union, and only 381 days remain until Britain’s formal exit date. The UK wants the broadest and deepest partnership possible with the EU. The EU, however, is not ready to accept the UK’s current proposals, and has accused them of ‘cherry-picking’. Negotiations are ongoing, but an agreement is still far away. As long as this uncertainty persists, the key question for companies remains: what will happen to business after Brexit?
At a time when Europe is finally starting to see sustained growth, after nearly a decade recovering from the economic and financial crisis, Brexit will throw another spanner in the works. According to the recent Deloitte report “Belgium’s Brexit – why you should act now”, Belgium is one of the countries most vulnerable to Brexit. Whether negotiations will result in a hard or soft Brexit, companies should start planning now – hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
While Brexit will pose a formidable challenge for Belgium, the country also has the opportunity to profile itself as a hub for business in post-Brexit times. Some businesses are already moving their operations away from the UK – with Euroclear as only the most recent example to choose Brussels.
In order to help companies to prepare their strategy with more confidence, based on realistic expectations, the High Level Brexit Group has published its key recommendations to policymakers, proposing creative, pragmatic and practical solutions to avoid further unnecessary hinderance of trade. According to the latest report by the High Level Group, the Belgian governments and the private sector should join forces and share knowledge, in a way that each and every partner – within their own competences and capacity – can contribute to a common and coordinated effort to prepare for and deal with the consequences of Brexit.
AmCham Belgium looks forward to working in close collaboration with the Government to ensure Belgium remains a stable and attractive location to invest and do business, also after Brexit.
More news on Brexit will be covered in the April issue of AmCham Connect. Please contact Corianne Oosterbaan at the Secretariat should you be interested in contributing an article. We would also like to thank SD Worx for kindly sponsoring our 2018 Annual General Meeting and ‘Business After Brexit’ event.