International Trade: Preparing for Brexit
Date: 28 Feb 2018
There is still much to do to prepare United Kingdom plc AND Milton Keynes plc for a post-Brexit world
Now more than ever UK plc, and closer to home Milton Keynes plc, needs to sell its products, services and talents to customers abroad. When we leave the European Union we should maintain good trading relations with all the countries within it and they will remain some of our biggest markets. But we cannot take that for granted.
Following the EU Referendum in 2016 there has been a sea change in attitudes towards finding and growing new markets beyond Europe and this brings fantastic opportunities for businesses in Milton Keynes. Since the referendum there have been several well-publicised overseas trade missions. But well before then Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership was already identifying those countries and regions around the world where existing trade relationships with Milton Keynes could be strengthened - and new ones forged.
We began conversations with successful business interest groups like ours. These bore fruit at the beginning of 2017 when we announced a Memorandum of Understanding between MK Business Leaders and the British Business Group of Dubai and the Northern Emirates, opening the door for Milton Keynes companies. There has been significant interest in this important market among local businesses, so far in the Engineering, Security and Education sectors.
We have spread the word that if businesses want to trade in that region, we can put them in touch with people with local knowledge, contacts and experience. MK Business Leaders has also hosted a top-level trade delegation to Milton Keynes from the Chinese mega-city of Shenzhen, showing off our technology, education and cultural achievements to key industrialists, investors and decision-makers.
Our guests spoke warmly about reciprocal visits to China and our efforts have received the generous support of the International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox and our local MP Iain Stewart, but they have taken place outside the established official government pathways for overseas trade. As useful as these routes are, we prefer to build our bridges B2B, talking to those on the ground and in the know.
Our own trade ‘mission’ is encouraging new opportunities but we are also aware of businesses and organisations in MK that are already doing great things abroad. That has led to us give the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards, now in its fifth year, an ‘International’ theme for 2018 and to introduce a new International Trade Award for companies selling the skills, industry and expertise of Milton Keynes around the world. There is still so much to be done to prepare for a post-Brexit UK plc. Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership is doing what we can to prepare MK plc for a world of international trade.
Dr Philip Smith MBE
Chair Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership