Following the British vote to exit the European Union there has been a question mark over what it will mean for our country’s small businesses. Now it’s emerged that the UK and Australia are holding “preliminary discussions” about a post Brexit trade deal. However, an agreement would be at least two and a half years away as the UK are unable to sign any deals while still in the EU.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Theresa May appears to have taken confidence from her discussions with Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo who predicted an agreement between the countries will happen “when the time is right”. Making her G20 summit statement in the Commons this week, she said the UK could become “the global leader in free trade”.
According to government figures from 2014, the UK’s top exports to Australia include medicines and pharmaceuticals, scientific instruments, clothing accessories and electrical machinery.
Exports from Australia to the UK currently include lead, gold, alcoholic beverages and pearls and gems.
A working group has now been created to continue the discussions with the first meeting scheduled to be held in Australia in January.
So what does this mean for small businesses?
Currently two in three growing businesses are still not exporting abroad, according to Royal Mail research. 35 per cent of the surveyed businesses believe Europe holds the most potential to generate new sales for their business, followed by North America. Whilst the preliminary trade talks with Australia appear to be a positive step forward there’s still major concern about the impact of Brexit on exporting.
The Federation of Small Businesses recently published a report into the export landscape for UK small enterprises. In ‘Destination Export: The small business export landscape’ the FSB highlight the need for a stable and secure trading environment for small businesses to be prioritised. The findings of the report indicate that 21 per cent of small businesses would consider exporting with the right support and trading environment. Let’s hope the government are on the right path to securing it.