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What can Scottish companies do now to prepare for Brexit?

Highlights from our Brexit seminars at ScotExport 2018 - Tuesday 6 November, Glasgow.

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ScotExport, Scotland’s flagship international trade event, drew record attendance this year, bringing together over 320 delegates and agency partners at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow.

With all the Brexit uncertainty, one could sense both excitement and trepidation among ambitious companies – either taking their first steps on their exporting journey or looking to grow existing export sales. And rightly so.

What will a future UK-EU relationship look like? How might regulations, tariffs, paperwork differ after Brexit? How will my company be impacted? And what should I prioritise?

Opening the conference, Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, acknowledged that Brexit is making life harder for business.

Yet amid all the Brexit commotion, it is clear that that the Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies are coming together to help mitigate the impact, and do everything they can to help companies export and stay focused on growth.

Start preparing now

Top industry and international trade experts shared useful insights and tips to help companies prepare for Brexit and overcome potential challenges.

While it’s encouraging that 33% of 1200 growth companies we surveyed have a Brexit plan in place or are currently developing one, a startling 67% have not yet started planning.

"It’s never too early to start preparing,” says Lesley Batchelor OBE, who champions UK exporters as director general for the Institute for Export and International Trade. She advises to get your record-keeping in order and develop strategies to exploit new markets. Most importantly, make sure you understand what your responsibilities and liabilities are.

Our Prepare for Brexit resources can support you to ensure you have all these things covered.

Companies who are worried about exporting or shipping physical goods, should seek advice from experienced freight operators, advises Robin MacGeachy, CEO of Peak Scientific – a homegrown Scottish exporting company competing successfully in 20 countries.

People are your most important assets

Jamie Kerr, specialist immigration law partner at Burness Paull LLP, highlighted the UK residency scheme for EU citizens that will be coming into force shortly. He advises that companies should start to consider what the legal requirements will be to protect European nationals already in the country. And act now to implement those requirements.

If you're an employer, the UK Government EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit will equip you with the right tools and information to support EU citizens and their families to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Connect with experts

The buzzword at our Prepare for Brexit seminar at ScotExport was “research”.

And that’s what Scotland’s enterprise and skills agencies are very good at. Collectively we’re supporting businesses to help them overcome the challenges posed by Brexit. For many ambitious companies, ScotExport was the ideal opportunity to meet a whole range of specialist advisers under one roof and network with likeminded companies.

Scotland has an exceptional network of business and skills support, not just in Scotland, but around the world. And you can be confident that our coordinated programme of tailored support will help you manage the Brexit transition.

Our Prepare for Brexit support is a one-door approach, packed with resources to help you at every step, being jointly delivered by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and Business Gateway, and being supported by partners across the private and public sector.

What will a post-Brexit future look like?

“Be strong and carry on with your exporting,” is the message from Mary Kernohan, head of development at SnapDragon Monitoring Ltd. Watch her video for advice on EU design rights and how companies could be affected post-Brexit.

“The world isn’t going to come to an end. We’re still going to trade,” adds Robin MacGeachy, CEO of Peak Scientific. “The French will still want to sell their wines, the Germans will still want to sell their cars, and we (Scotland) are still going to want to sell our Scotch overseas to their countries.”

Ross Hunter, CEO of Copylab UK, another homegrown Scottish exporting company, shares that positive sentiment:

Take the next step for your business

Help us to help you. Our Brexit self-assessment tool and 15-point checklist are a good place to start. These will help you identify the issues you should consider when preparing for Brexit and signpost you to relevant support.

This new tool will help make sure you’re aware of the risks, rewards and challenges of the new economic landscape. It takes under 20 minutes to complete, giving you a tailored report with recommendations and suggested events, services and support available to your business.

“This is an excellent tool that my clients will find very useful. As well as being easy to access, it also suggests points for action which are tailored towards specific business needs. This is extremely helpful as it provides direction for business in the face of continued uncertainty and the tool acts as a much needed prompt for businesses in Scotland to prepare for Brexit.”

Jamie Kerr, Partner at Burness Paull LLP

Got a Brexit planning question?

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