Withdrawal agreement vital to allow real Brexit discussions to begin

Last week, the latest tranche of government advisory notes on the implications of a ‘no deal’ Brexit were released by HMRC covering a broad range of considerations from the trading of goods to and from the EU to the effects on tour operators and haulage companies.

The publication of the guidance, as the government is careful to point out, does not suggest that a ‘no deal’ is any more likely than not, but it does highlight the reality that, as it stands, it is the only scenario that can be prepared for with any degree of clarity.

As an organisation however, we do not support a ‘no deal’ and the clear desire from the business community, regardless of which side of the Brexit debate they reside is for a withdrawal agreement to be reached before the 29th March deadline.

We must therefore endeavour to do everything in our power to pass the withdrawal agreement to allow vital discussions around future relations and trade to begin.

Beyond that, there is growing appetite for the implementation of an extended transition period beyond the proposed 31st December 2020 closure.

It’s not about dragging the process out. It’s about making sure that when the transition finally comes to an end, our members’ businesses, and other firms, have had sufficient time to prepare.

Under any other normal trade deal, a transition period of around two years is expected to allow businesses to adjust to the new arrangements.

Certainly, there is groundwork that can be laid now but only when the details of the regulatory framework of the post-Brexit era are finalised can firms get down to the brass tacks and that will require specialist help not available in technical notices – and time.

Ever since the EU Referendum was first announced, the Institute of Directors has been working with members to assist them in their preparations for what may lay ahead.

Guidance notes on how to prepare are constantly updated while regular webinars lead by our Head of Europe and Trade Policy Allie Renison provide practical information for members not just on how the trade of goods may be affected but drilling into details around the implications on intellectual property, trademarks and contractual disputes.

A regular Brexit commentator, Allie is a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland where she has engaged with literally hundreds of our members through workshops and our series of Chairman’s Roadshows.

Next month, we are delighted that Allie will be with us once again for the next in our Connect and Influence Series. Focusing on Brexit, she will be joined by respected broadcaster Tony Connelly, RTE’s Europe Editor.

More than 150 members are expected at the event held at Stormont Hotel on 21st November where not only will they avail of the special insight from two individuals placed close to Brexit negotiations, but will have the opportunity to meet with a range of Brexit specialists for practical advice.

The event forms a crucial element of our continued programme of engagement with members as we gear them up for Brexit, whether it’s under a ‘no deal’ scenario or with a withdrawal arrangement and extended transition period in place.

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