UK SMEs concerned - but Australia sees opportunity in speedy post-Brexit trade deal

Although Australia is looking forward to reinvigorating their economic partnership with the UK, even in the event on a no-deal Brexit, UK businesses are concerned about a post-Brexit global downturn.

A union jack flag in a sandcastle on a beach with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised his country will be "one of the first cabs off the rank" in discussions over a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. 

Australia's PM Morrison sees opportunities in Boris Johnson and Brexit

Mr Morrison said he had spoken to Boris Johnson since he was appointed the UK's new prime minister on Wednesday and that both were looking forward to discussing future relations at the G7 summit in France next month."I think the new prime minister will bring a new opportunity," he said. "Moving very quickly, when the opportunity presents, to be able to move to an agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia on trade."We will be one of the first cabs off the rank, as has been the case in our discussions with the UK for some time."This is a time of change for the United Kingdom, and I think the new prime minister will bring a new opportunity, I think, to resolve what had been some very difficult issues, and that it is in the interest not only of the United Kingdom and Europe to resolve these matters, but for the order global economy to get some resolution of these issues."Foreign Minister Marise Payne echoed Mr Morrison’s approach, telling journalists: “Brexit is an opportunity for our two countries to reinvigorate our already strong economic partnership and we will be ready to launch negotiations on an FTA as soon as it is possible for the UK post-Brexit.“Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Australians can be assured we have been preparing for all eventualities, including a ‘no-deal’.”

President Trump's "America First" policies face reluctance from UK SMEs

Despite the looming possibility of a no-deal Brexit, more than half of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are more concerned about a global downturn and other geopolitical problems, according to a survey conducted by international payments company OFX.The company's annual survey of 500 senior SME decision-makers found that 44 per cent expected to begin or increase international sales over the next 12 months.And while Brexit was having little effect on SMEs' ambitions to engage in global trade, the survey found that the appeal of trading with the US was tapering off as a result of President Trump's 'America first' policies.
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"Small and medium-sized UK businesses have been put off the US by the threat of new barriers to the market. Interest in trading with the US fell again this year, with one in five businesses reporting a decreased appetite for UK-US trade in light of President Trump’s protectionist trade policies, which include the threat of new tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of European goods," said OFX.Meanwhile, some 47 per cent of respondents expected to start or to increase sales to Western Europe over the next year, despite the fast-approaching Brexit deadline and uncertain future trading relationship.Sarah Webb, UK and Europe president at OFX said: “While UK businesses are right to prepare themselves for the risks of a no-deal Brexit, this should not be the only issue that takes their attention right now."The knock-on effects of a global economic slowdown could end up posing a bigger challenge to global trade and the currency markets, so it’s comforting to see small to medium-sized businesses taking action to protect themselves so they can continue to trade with confidence.”Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory