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Renowned economist Vicky Pryce and Cabinet Office representatives have engaged local business owners at a roundtable event about Brexit, business and the current economic picture – hosted by Basildon Council, the Institute of Directors Essex (IoD) and Santander.
Ms Pryce outlined a case for why 2020 could be a very difficult international trading environment for Britain and Basildon – but where there is also cause for cautious hope for local businesses.
Speaking about Brexit and growth in the Essex economy at Costa Coffee roastery last week, Ms Pryce pointed out that, “world economic forecasts have been downgraded recently, with many export markets not doing that well or flat, especially in Europe (which makes up around 45% of the British export market).”
But despite zero economic growth in England over the last quarter of 2019, Ms Pryce said that when it comes to the economic consequences of Brexit, “we don’t know how the world will change, even in 10 years.”
Leader of Basildon Council Gavin Callaghan said:
“Increasing the level of business engagement and supporting local businesses through the opportunities and challenges of Brexit is a major priority.
“Basildon has the potential to be a magnet for entrepreneurship, tech businesses, sports, arts and music lovers – along with companies like Ford, Konica Minolta, and Costa coffee who already have a massive presence in Basildon.
“That is why the council is already in negotiations with investment partners in North America and China on the delivery of the South Essex Arena, and is focused on strengthening the local economy and – for all of us who live and work here – our pride in the borough.”
Event host and IoD East of England Ambassador Darryl Bannon, said: “The big takeaway from the event is the importance for businesses, trade bodies and other business organisation to join forces to help everyone through this Brexit transition. It would be very welcome from SMEs to receive some financial support to help with planning.”
Agreeing with the need for central government to support SMEs, Ms Pryce pointed out that following Brexit, “we could have many more trade links than we do now – say in the USA – and the solutions we will find in the EU between businesses could be much better than people are saying. It may not be immediate but business is very good at creating solutions.
“It makes you re-think how policy works, and I’m very optimistic about that.”
Business talks and roundtable events are held regularly across Basildon. For more information see www.basildon.gov.uk/keepintouch and register for Bas for Business enewsletter to never miss a business event.