BUSINESSES in the region have been warned they cannot afford to ‘wait and see’ over Brexit and should start preparing for all outcomes.
Mike Walsh, senior lecturer at Coventry University, says the West Midlands may be potentially more vulnerable if there was no deal with Europe as a larger share of its exports went to the EU compared to other UK regions.
He was speaking at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce-organised event ‘Selling Services Overseas: Now and Post Brexit event’.
Mr Walsh said businesses could not wait around for clarity from the government and should conduct a Brexit risk assessment.
Mr Walsh said: “The region exports a large share of its total service exports to the EU and it is estimated that if there is a hard Brexit, GDP in the West Midlands could be 13 per cent lower by 2030.
“A clear majority of studies come to the same conclusion – although with different magnitudes – that Brexit will reduce the UK’s GDP by 2030, while a minority of studies indicate a gain.
“Whatever happens, it is clear that businesses should make sure they are prepared for all situations.”
This was reinforced during a panel discussion which heard many businesses were already putting plans into place, including setting up offices in EU countries to make sure everything was in place for a hard Brexit as the worst case scenario.
James Ahearne, international trade spokesman at the Chamber, said: “Any certainty on future UK-EU trade terms is years away, regardless of what happens on the domestic front, and there is a lot that businesses can and should be doing now to understand the implications of Brexit and adapt their plans accordingly.
“If businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire adopt a wait and see approach when it comes to Brexit planning they may be waiting a long time.
“Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has a number of events coming up in the New Year around Brexit, including our regular Brexit Club, so we are here to provide advice and assistance.”