Britain needs to rediscover its “Bulldog spirit” in order to realise the opportunities presented by Brexit according to Australia’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner for the UK.
Speaking with the chief executive of Informed Solutions, Elizabeth Vega, after a recent Department for International Trade event at Sci-Tech Daresbury, David Watson said a bolder business mindset was needed to cope with fragile confidence in the face of Brexit headwinds.
“You’ve got to get back to basics and rediscover the British Bulldog spirit,” he said.
“That’s what made Britain great in the first place. You were pioneers out in the world with a sense of adventure and self-belief. You need to re-harness that spirit now! These are uncertain times for the UK but also for the whole globe and it isn’t all doom and gloom.”
At a time when the number of UK businesses trading internationally is decreasing, with latest figures showing that over a million fewer SMEs are trading in 2017 and only 22 per cent plan to export in the next quarter, Watson urged businesses to embrace trading opportunities with Australia.
“I’m encouraging British businesses with great products and services to export,” he said. “I really want aspirational UK businesses to see the excellent opportunities that are available in the Australian marketplace. Australia has much to offer in terms of cultural synergies and being a welcoming business environment. It’s a stable, high performing economy with a lot of growth potential – and it’s also a highly accessible gateway into the whole of the Asia-Pacific region. On top of this, it hasn’t experienced a recession for some 26-years.”
He also added that in managing the process of Brexit, Britain could learn a lot from Australia’s experiences.
“Australia has been here also,” he stressed. “In 1973 Australia lost most of its export market when the UK joined the European Economic Community. At that time, we did 70% of our trade with the UK and we lost that market almost overnight. It was hugely unsettling at the time – politically, emotionally and economically for Australia.
“But if you fast forward 40 years it’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We went on to build all these amazing trading relationships with Asia and the US where there is enormous growth potential and new opportunities for Australian businesses. “
Elizabeth Vega, who hosted the meeting, said afterwards that she wanted others to enjoy the same benefits as her company had from trading with Australia.
“As a DIT UK Export Champion, we’re always eager to loudly beat a drum on the benefits of trading overseas and encouraging businesses to think beyond UK and European borders,” she said.
“Doing business in another country enables us to offer international secondments and this is a very attractive perk that helps us recruit and retain talented young graduates with valuable skills. Also, having really diverse and internationally distributed teams has encouraged greater tolerance and acceptance of cultural differences in styles of communication and working, which better serves our customers and staff alike.”