by Ine Lejeune, Partner and Brexit Lead, PwC Legal and Karolien Vandenberghe, Senior Managing Associate, PwC Legal – Tax Policy, International Trade & Market Access
What should companies do to be ready for a “No Deal” Brexit scenario on March 29, 2019?
On February 8, 2019, AmCham Belgium organized, together with PwC Legal and PwC, a Brexit event to provide companies with information on the potential impact of a “No Deal” scenario and emphasize the importance of preparedness in this situation.
In Belgium, four out of five companies that do business with the United Kingdom are not prepared for a “No Deal” scenario (one without a transition period). Now that this scenario is becoming more likely every day and, even more so, with the rejection of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by the UK House of Commons, companies absolutely need to prepare!
In order to raise awareness of the potential impact of a “No Deal” scenario, Ine Lejeune, Brexit Lead & Partner, PwC Legal, stressed the unlikeliness of a deal:
If companies want to mitigate the impact of a ‘No Deal’, they have to first know where and how Brexit will hit them the hardest by conducting a risk assessment.
BNP Paribas Fortis Chief Economist Koen De Leus elaborated on the economic impact of Brexit in the EU and, more specifically, in Belgium. Compared to a Brexit with a “divorce” agreement, a “No Deal” Brexit could mean four times more job losses and lost added value.
The PwC Legal and PwC Core Brexit team – a multidisciplinary team of experienced professionals – carefully led the audience through the various aspects of what Brexit means for business. Whether products or services are involved, Brexit will affect companies throughout their operations: from the CE-mark, determination of origin, customs entry, INCOTERMS, licensing, VAT declarations, SEPA payments, change of law clauses, corporate tax declaration, ISDAs to travel restrictions and visa requirements.
Ine Lejeune focused on what Brexit means from a political and legal perspective. Lionel Van Reet, Partner, PwC, highlighted the potential impact on customs and VAT. With regard to commercial contracts and corporate transactions, Pierre Queritet, Director, PwC Legal, shared his know-how, while Philip Van Steenwinkel, Director, PwC Legal, focused on the specifics regarding finance and banking. Nadja De Bie, Senior Manager, PwC Legal, assessed what Brexit means for employees and global mobility, and Karolien Vandenberghe, Senior Managing Associate, PwC Legal, provided an overview of the regulatory impact and of the available preparedness notices. Finally, Stefaan De Baets, Senior Manager, PwC, highlighted the impact on corporate tax.
The presentations were followed by an industry panel discussion between Gwendolien Fonck, Vice-President EMEA at Huntsman, Griet Mahieu from the Belgian Customs and Excises Administration, Raymond Troch, ICO & Vice-President APZI, Fa Quix, Director-General at Fedustria and Raymond Taylor, Director Public Policy at PwC UK, who discussed how they see the impact of Brexit and how they are preparing for a “No Deal” scenario.
As a reminder, if EU27 companies want to continue trading with the United Kingdom after Brexit, they will have to request an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number to import/export goods into or from the EU. On a positive note, the Port of Zeebrugge has a preparedness plan ready, not only providing for extra space for trucks but also organizing a digital platform that will connect directly to the UK Port Community Systems.
The conclusion of the event was clear: prepare for the worst and hope for the best, #BeReady!
AmCham Belgium thanks to PwC Legal and PwC for hosting this event!