Brexit workshops get small businesses ready to trade

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has held 130 Brexit workshops for small businesses trading with the EU, and will soon launch a new market access database for UK traders.

DIT invited thousands of small business traders to bespoke workshops, helping them develop personalised plans to continue and increase their trade after we leave the EU. The free-to-attend events were led by DIT’s regional network of International Trade Advisors in towns and cities across England during September and October this year.

While overseas demand for British goods and services has never been higher, with exports climbing by £19.4 billion to £654.2 billion in the 12 months to August 2019, many small businesses favour trading with the EU. Research shows 79% of exporting SMEs export to EU (non-UK) countries whereas 67% currently export outside the EU.

That’s why hundreds of government trade advisers were joined by local Growth Hubs, Export Champions and members of partner trade associations to help small businesses get ready for Brexit. To date, 2,047 businesses have attended the workshops and 86% felt more prepared for Brexit as a result.

Topics covered in each workshop included: paperwork needed to continue exporting; the impact of Brexit on supply chains; changes to regulations and contracts; where to find tariff information; commodity codes and duty rates; and business travel to the EU. Businesses need to make sure they are ready for Brexit.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said:

  • "The world is ready to trade with the UK and I want businesses of all sizes to make the most of the fantastic opportunities on offer."
  • "We have already signed trade continuity agreements accounting for £100 billion of UK trade to safeguard the needs of our exporters."
  • "But there is more we can do. That’s why our network of International Trade Advisors and experts from across the country will keep working directly with businesses to get them ready for trading after Brexit."

Encouraging exporters to seize trade opportunities post-Brexit will ensure the UK’s exports continue to grow.

More than 2,700 businesses also attended 30 Brexit readiness events organised by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The free events, held in towns and cities across the UK, were staffed by government experts from a range of departments. More than 85% of attendees surveyed after the events reported feeling more prepared for Brexit having attended, while an online webinar workshop and Q&A event held on 16 October has been viewed more than 5,500 times.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:

  • "Supporting business to get ready for Brexit on 31 October has been a major priority for the government. Businesses told us they wanted more face to face advice, and that’s exactly what we are doing."
  • "From Perth to Southampton, and Belfast to Wrexham, I am delighted that more than 8,000 business people all over the UK have had a chance to get face-to-face advice from the government. These events helped to address the concerns of some firms, but also helped British businesses to prepare for the opportunities that Brexit will bring to scale up in new markets"