Get your business Brexit ready - workshop blog

On 24th January 2019, 25 delegates attended the ‘Get your business-Brexit ready’ workshop, hosted by Martin Johnson, regional head of international and key sectors for Highlands and Islands Enterprise and led by expert, Kevin Shakespeare, from the Institute of Export. The speakers shared valuable insights with and advice to businesses on the implications of Brexit on trade. 

Kevin Shakespeare began by outlining the Brexit timeline and its status. He encouraged businesses to put a plan in place now, regardless of the uncertainty. The audience were then given the task of identifying key issues they felt their businesses would come up against.

The morning then moved on with Kevin highlighting what the transition and implementation period would consist of, the impact Brexit would have on trade services, and the wider implications for international trading.

One of the key messages outlined and reiterated throughout the workshop was to communicate with your suppliers and customers. Ensure you are discussing possible Brexit impacts and reassure them at every stage of your continued commitment in the face of potential change.

Further discussions took place regarding the origin of products, as post-Brexit, what is currently classed as EU origin will have to be separated into UK and EU. Kevin explained to the audience that businesses will have to demonstrate that at least 60% of the product is of UK origin and to review their supply chains to ensure it meets the requirements.

Other issues that were highlighted during a Q+A were the change to documentation and an increase in workloads. To handle extra trade work, Kevin suggested looking at adding to your team, introducing new software, or outsourcing. The Government has put grants in place to support businesses when purchasing new software and training members of staff. Businesses must also ensure they maintain good practice on protecting patents and trademarks.

The huge effect Brexit will have on customs was also a talking point throughout the workshop.  Kevin pointed out the option of businesses becoming Authorised Economic Operators. This would demonstrate that your role within the international supply chain is secure and will enable you to avoid custom delays and be notified about inspections. Additional customs procedures will be put in place post-Brexit, such as businesses having to submit custom declarations for EU importing and exporting. Your freight forwarder can make these on your behalf, however you are still responsible for the information provided.

Kevin encouraged the audience to keep up to date on all immigration, visa and residency developments. Businesses with EU national employees should create an employee profile document to ensure they are up to date with employee background and status. And he also suggested you assist your EU national employees on navigating their way through Brexit.
The audience was encouraged to check World Trade Organisation rules and tariffs on the EU Market Access Database to stay informed and focused on key issues applicable to them.

The workshop concluded with Stewart Miller, Expert Advisor from Scottish Development International, highlighting the ‘Prepare for Brexit’ campaign. ‘Prepare for Brexit’ is a coordinated, multi-agency and Scotland- wide business readiness initiative. Its aim is to encourage and support businesses to actively plan for Brexit, offering online and face to face support. For further information please visit:

The key takeaway is to build a Brexit trade strategy and action it now. This applies, no matter what sector your business operates in.  Engage and influence your sector, speak to trade associations, competitors and like-minded companies for support.

Find out how we can help you prepare for Brexit.

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