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11 October 2017

UK and Welsh Government must work together to support small firms to trade in post-Brexit Wales

FSB Wales has today (Wednesday 11 October) published a new report on Brexit, SMEs and the Welsh economy following a survey of FSB’s 10,000 members in Wales.

Making Brexit Work for Wales’ Smaller Businesses calls on the Welsh and UK Governments to take a number of actions in order to ensure that Welsh businesses are subject to a Brexit that work for them. The report covers the themes of access to markets, access to skills and labour, funding and regulation and makes key recommendations for all, based on the opinions of Wales’ business community.

FSB Wales research confirms that around one fifth of FSB’s membership in Wales exports, with around 13.5% of FSB Wales members importing goods or services.

The key recommendations are:

  • UK Government should seek to at all costs to minimise tariffs and non-tariff barriers for trade
  • That the UK Government secure an interim deal on the customs union, giving small businesses in Wales time to prepare for any new arrangements and regulatory obligations arising from our exit from the European Union in 2019.
  • That the Welsh Government publish a Trade and Investment Strategy as part of a wider economic development strategy. This would inform Welsh Government’s input into UK-wide trade deals post-Brexit.
  • Post-Brexit migration arrangements should protect Welsh firms ability to fill skill gaps. Costs associated with hiring migrants should be kept to a minimum.
  • A funding deal which gives Welsh firms access to similar facilities and packages that would have been available had we remained in the European Union.
  • Any future funding regime should preserve best practice as it has emerged in Wales, and be designed with the smallest businesses in mind.
  • A gradual and considered approach to regulatory reform post-Brexit, with clear staging and signposting to ensure ease of compliance.
  • The Welsh Government should take forward a “better regulation” agenda for Wales.

Commenting on the report, Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said;

“Wales’ economy is one that is based on the success of small firms – the vast majority of firms in Wales hire less than 25 people and most private sector employment in Wales is in SMEs. Therefore, it is crucial that Welsh and UK Government work together to deliver a Brexit that ensures that these firms can have a bright and successful future.”

Ben Cottam, FSB Wales Head of External Affairs, said:

“Business confidence in Wales is holding up but this is fragile. It is important that businesses see more effective collaboration between UK and Welsh Governments on Brexit and ensuring that Welsh businesses are protected and supported.

Both governments have a key role to play in ensuring that a success is made of Brexit and need to form effective partnerships with the business community to that end.”