Businesses at the event, organised by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, were told that they could not wait around for clarity on Brexit from Government and should be putting plans in place now.
Firms were told that a ‘wait and see’ approach could leave them on hold for many months to come and that all companies should be conducting a Brexit risk assessment and should be scenario planning for the future.
Mike Walsh, senior lecturer at Coventry University, was the guest speaker for the Selling Services Overseas: Now and Post Brexit event at Study Inn in Coventry.
He warned that the West Midlands may be potentially more vulnerable if there is no deal with Europe, one reason being a large share of its service exports go to the EU, compared to other UK regions.
He said: “The region exports a large share of its total service exports to the EU and it is estimated that if there is a hard Brexit, GDP in the West Midlands could be 13% lower by 2030.
“A clear majority of studies come to the same conclusion, although with different magnitudes, Brexit will reduce the UK’s GDP by 2030, while a minority of studies indicate a gain.
“Whatever happens, it is clear that businesses should make sure they are prepared for all situations.”
This was backed up by a panel discussion with Paul James from Arquebus Solutons, Cheryl Rawbone from Arthur J Gallagher, Susan Bradley from Marks and Clerk and Paul Wrighting from the British Chambers of Commerce.
The panel discussed a range of practical issues covering various sectors. They explained that many businesses were already putting plans into place, including setting up offices in EU countries to make sure everything is in place for a hard Brexit as the worst case scenario.
But the overwhelming message is that business owners should be scenario planning for Brexit now so that whatever the outcome in March 2019 or beyond, they are in the best position possible.
James Ahearne, International Trade Hub Manager at the Chamber, said: “Any certainty on future UK-EU trade terms is years away, regardless of what happens on the domestic front, and there is a lot that businesses can and should be doing now to understand the implications of Brexit and adapt their plans accordingly.
“If businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire adopt a wait and see approach when it comes to Brexit planning they may be waiting a long time.
“Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has a number of events coming up in the New Year around Brexit, including our regular Brexit Club, so we are here to provide advice and assistance.”
For further information on accessing help around Brexit or about the upcoming event visit www.cw-chamber.co.uk