Belfast Telegraph

British business must sharpen up their Brexit contingency plans, report warns

Business leaders must grapple with the “profound uncertainty” fuelled by unpredictable nationalist leaders, it claimed.

British businesses with close trade ties to the EU must ramp up their Brexit contingency plans in 2018 as the global economy grapples with rising nationalism and protectionism, a report has warned.

EU-focused firms should tighten the focus on their trading arrangements next year as the UK edges ever closer to its divorce from the bloc, according to consultancy group Control Risks.

Business leaders must also grapple with the “profound uncertainty” fuelled by unpredictable nationalist leaders and heightened political tensions between the likes of the United States and North Korea, and Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Analysts from Control Risks said: “UK businesses exposed to Europe will have to step up their scenario-based contingency planning and continental Europeans trading with the UK will need to add urgency to their trading options review.

“More broadly, the European Union may have returned to growth but how will its vision and economy be impacted by ongoing nationalism?”

Prime Minister Theresa May has been given the green light by Brussels to shift Brexit negotiations onto trade after reaching an agreement on areas such as the divorce bill and the Irish border.

However, Brexit uncertainty will remain a risk to British business until question marks over the trade agreement are put to bed.

The report added that protectionist policies from the United States, a large-scale cyber attack and Middle Eastern rivalries are among the potential flashpoints business leaders should be wary of in 2018.

Control Risks chief executive Richard Fenning said: “Despite the most positive global economic outlook since the end of the financial crisis, we are entering a year of geo-political fragility that has the potential to trigger shockwaves to global stability and business confidence.

“The biggest risk is that the next world order will be imposed, not agreed, set off by further nuclear brinksmanship between the US and North Korea, or wide-scale destabilisation in the Middle East because of escalating Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry.

“While these events are unlikely, what is certain is that global dynamics and perceptions of risk are being shaped by a more robust, personalised and unpredictable style of political leadership in many parts of the world, making business planning very difficult.”

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