STA, 11 April 2019 - Participants of panel on Brexit hosted by the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce agreed on Thursday that the deadline extension means more time for the best possible solution, meaning one based on a deal.
British Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey believes the extension of Brexit until 31 October does not mean a prolongation of uncertainty but more time for the best possible approach.
UK Trade Commissioner for Europe Andrew Mitchell highlighted the close trade ties between the UK and the EU, pointing out trade with EU countries accounted for more than half of Britain's foreign trade last year.
He said a no-deal Brexit would have substantial consequences for the economy and agreed the extension provides an opportunity to reach a deal and enable the firm economic ties to be preserved in the future.
The UK wants a detailed free trade agreement with the EU that would cover customs and regulatory cooperation so as to allow companies to continue to trade in a similar fashion they are doing now, Mitchell said.
As for the Brexit-related developments in the British parliament, Honey spoke of the biggest challenge for the government in several generations, while Mitchell believes time will show that this was the "most profound democratic exercise".
Honey stressed on the sidelines of the event that the UK has been part of the EU for 45 years. EU membership touches on practically all facets of life, while the referendum result was 52% vs 48%, which is why she feels it is normal that an extensive discussion is under way now in the UK.
The uncertainty regarding future relations has so far not shown in the trade between the UK and Slovenia - Slovenian exports rose by 11% last year, while imports from the UK were up 15%.
However, similar growth should not be expected after Brexit, said the head of the Foreign Ministry sector for bilateral economy cooperation Iztok Grmek.
A number of companies who do business with the UK also attended the event, but they were left without concrete answers regarding what they can expect after Brexit.
One example is aircraft maintenance firm Adria Tehnika, whose key client is the British air carrier Easyjet.
"We participated in the transfer of a part of their fleet from the British to the Austrian registry last year, but part of the fleet remains registered in the British registry. The question is what this means in terms of customs duties and the license and whether we should seek a special license with the English registry," Adria Tehnika's commercial director Mirjana Tratnjek Čeh illustrated.
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