Suffolk businesses look to form European subsidiaries to mitigate Brexit

Brexit advisors Koyas Miah and Michael Chapman said they were helping Suffolk businesses make the most of growth...

Brexit advisors Koyas Miah and Michael Chapman said they were helping Suffolk businesses make the most of growth opportunities post-Brexit that would make the county's economy more resilient. Picture: ANDREW ST LEDGER/SCC - Credit: Archant

Suffolk firms are considering setting up subsidiary companies in EU nations to mitigate the impacts of Brexit, according to local business advisers.

And nearly a quarter of the county’s firms say they are not prepared for the end of the transition period on January 1 2021, they have reported.

Suffolk’s two trade business advisors who took up posts last year to help firms through the Brexit process, told the county’s Public Sector Leaders gathering of health, police and council bosses on Friday that surveys indicated 53% of Suffolk firms were “as prepared as they can be” for the new rules that will apply once the transition period ends.

But 23% have reported they are not ready, as of last month’s figures.

MORE: Highways England plans two months of A14 night closures just days after EU transition period endsTrade business advisor with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Koyas Miah, said: “Those firms have been saying they need more clarity and clear guidance in terms of preparing.

“The other thing we are hearing from businesses is that some businesses are considering setting up subsidiaries in the EU to continue their trade.

“That could in turn reflect on Suffolk redundancies.

“Businesses are also saying overseas clients are cautious about hiring services from the UK, and that is due to Brexit uncertainty.”

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The chamber’s surveys indicated 15% of Suffolk businesses were already trading with the EU, and 28% were trading with the EU and global markets, which demonstrated that “in Suffolk we have a very strong international trading presence”.

While potential barriers and concerns are being addressed as part of the final leg of the transition period, the trade advisors said it was also important to help firms make the most of the growth opportunities it affords.

Trade business advisor Michael Chapman, said: “We are working to guide Suffolk business through the end of transition which is a particular pinch point at the moment because we are six weeks away from the end of transition, and from the 1st of January 2021 life is going to be very different to all businesses.

“That is irrespective of whether we get a trade deal or not.

MORE: Suffolk firms encouraged to export post-Brexit“The introductions of a new border and customs formalities it is important businesses need to prepare.”

He added: “I believe Suffolk is in a good place, I think there is certainly a group of Suffolk businesses already trading in the EU. Our job is to make sure they can continue to trade and see some growth.

“But it is important to recognise businesses still need assistance and that is really focused upon ensuring they have the necessary information, capacity, the skills and support to move forward.

“Really what we are doing is trying to change mindsets. Under these circumstances it is to look at how businesses can change mindsets, look to the future and what we are doing is creating further business confidence that will hopefully end us towards a more resilient and inclusive Suffolk economy.”