Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire have been urged to start pro-actively preparing for new international market opportunities and trading procedures ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union despite dealing with Covid-19.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub’s SmartRegion report from August 4-17 has collected information from the CWLEP Growth Hub’s business engagements and survey data, the CWLEP, Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, the Midlands Engine and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The study has also highlighted the need for further public investment to support businesses to explore new markets.
With the UK’s transition period to leave the EU set to end on December 31, the CWLEP Growth Hub’s current telemarketing campaign has revealed 54 per cent of businesses in the area are not concerned by the UK’s withdrawal, 26 per cent said they were concerned and 20 per cent were neutral.
Firms were also asked whether they had taken time to consider the impacts of the EU exit on their businesses to which 37 per cent responded yes, 32 per cent said no and the remaining 31 per cent said it wasn’t applicable to their business.
Business organisations throughout the Midlands Engine area have expressed strong concern over the end of the EU transition period because of a lack of cash reserves, an inability to stockpile, and general business disruption caused by Covid-19 which has made them less resilient and prepared for disruption likely through the EU exit.
Craig Humphrey, the managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the issue of leaving the EU had been on the back-burner for many businesses in recent months as they coped with the Coronavirus pandemic but with December 31 rapidly approaching, it was now becoming a more important focus.
He said: “The high number of businesses in our telemarketing campaign who have shown no concern about our EU exit can be seen as a positive particularly if it indicates that businesses do not expect major disruptions or negative impacts on their companies.
“However, it can also indicate that there has been a shift in priorities as businesses are still focusing on re-opening and bringing staff back from furlough.
“We have seen that there is a keen interest in gaining specialist advice on expanding international trade.
“This also includes understanding new markets and new routes to selling. This may highlight that despite businesses focusing on recovering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing a surge in firms exploring new markets, ways to sell their products and services and showing a keen interest in getting expert help.”
Craig said it was vital in the coming months that SMEs who had not thought about trading overseas, should start thinking about exporting as part of their business plans for survival.
He added: “The West Midlands Chamber of Commerce and the Department for International Trade have launched an offer to help encourage SMEs to export and we are running bi-weekly export support sessions with our Coventry & Warwickshire Channel Manager.
“There are also skilled International Trade Advisers based at our local Chamber of Commerce with a fantastic service for helping businesses with everything involved in exporting and making firms aware of the international trade opportunities that are available.
“There needs to be more financial resources to target international work for the business community in Coventry and Warwickshire particularly the manufacturing sector who will need to adapt more than most to changes in trading conditions after the transition arrangements with the EU end in December 2020 which will also be compounded by Covid-19.”