Restricted access to single market is biggest 'Brexit concern' for Welsh businesses, says leading politician

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Unrestricted access to the single market is the most important demand on government by Welsh businesses, according to the findings of a roundtable debate led by the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates, hosted by Blake Morgan at their offices in One Central Square Cardiff.

The event brought together leaders in the Welsh business community to discuss the impact the UK's departure from the European Union will have on businesses in Wales.

The Economy Secretary Ken Skates assured business leaders at the discussion that the First Minister's advisory council are looking at post Brexit implications as part of a report into the requirements of major businesses and employers in Wales. 

Following the UK's vote to leave the EU, the big question around the table was whether the UK government will choose to replicate the funding that the Welsh economy gets from the EU and what needs to happen to make sure that Wales is still an attractive place to invest and do business.

The Cabinet Secretary highlighted that some Welsh export markets do not align with the UK and therefore it is imperative that the 'voice of Wales' is factored into the Brexit negotiation process.

He confirmed that investment in infrastructure projects such as the South Wales Metro and 21st century schools as well as apprenticeships and a new investment bank are firmly on the Welsh Government's agenda.

Other important considerations debated at the roundtable event included:

  • The implications of Brexit on recruitment and retention of workers in Wales. In particular how staff shortages in other areas of the UK in sectors like construction may lead to an exodus of skilled workers
  • Proposals for a duty free enclave to strengthen import and export activity within Welsh ports
  • The need for continued investment in Welsh infrastructure projects
  • Potential incentives for economic development in Wales including using the Welsh Government's new taxation powers
  • The need for greater engagement between the government and the Welsh business community

Speaking at the event, the Cabinet Secretary said:

This roundtable  provided a useful opportunity for me to hear first hand about the challenges being faced by business across Wales in the wake of the vote to leave the EU.

“It brought up a number of themes that we are consistently hearing in our conversations with businesses, such as access to the single market, the customs union, the free movement of people, and regulations and standards.

“ I am determined to support Welsh business at this challenging time and this means thinking innovatively and working collaboratively across all levels of the private and public sectors in order to ensure the best outcomes for Wales.”

The roundtable also highlighted a number of opportunities for businesses in the lead up to the trigger on Article 50, including the opportunity for businesses to lock into low interest rates for the long term.

Emyr Lewis, Senior Partner for Wales at Blake Morgan who chaired the discussion, commented:

"It is clear from the findings of our roundtable that Welsh government understands many of the concerns of Welsh businesses in the face of Brexit and is keen to ensure that the economic damage to Wales caused by these uncertain times is kept to a minimum.  It is also actively looking at practical ways of promoting the sustainable economic development in Wales during the period of transition ahead.  The Welsh government needs to be able to play a key part in the Brexit negotiations to ensure that the voice of Welsh business and of Wales generally is heard.  At Blake Morgan, we are focused on helping our clients in Wales and beyond understand how the substantial legal and constitutional changes ahead of us will affect their business."

Blake Morgan is a Top 50 Law Firm with a strong regional presence in the South of England and Wales. In order to support businesses through Brexit they have set up a dedicated email address brexit@blakemorgan.co.uk and welcome questions from businesses across the UK.

For more information visit www.blakemorgan.co.uk/brexit