British Slovenian Chamber of Commerce Tries to Calm Business Fears Post-Brexit

By , 12 Feb 2020, 14:25 PM Business
HMA Sophie Honey at the event HMA Sophie Honey at the event Twitter

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STA, 12 February 2020 - Slovenian companies wondering about the future relationship with their UK partners after Brexit were assured at an event held by the British Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy on Wednesday that Britons wanted to preserve the close business ties.

The UK exited the EU at the beginning of the month after 47 years of membership. The terms of trade will remain unchanged until the transition period expires at the end of the year, while talks on new relations are to start soon, UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey told the event.

"We would like for us to continue to grow together," she said, noting the countries' close cooperation in many fields, from construction to banking and advanced technologies, with the volume of business between the two countries increasing by more than 10% over the past three years.

Honey believes that an agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU is feasible by the end of the transition period. The UK is keen to reach a free trade agreement similar to the one between the EU and Canada.

Tim Abraham, deputy director at the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said that now was the opportunity to prepare for the changed terms and conditions setting in as the UK exits the single market and customs union at the end of 2020.

Abraham, who would like for the close business ties to be preserved, noted that many of the businesses present at the event today already do business with countries outside the EU, saying that doing business with the UK on new terms would not be much different than that.

Zoran Stančič, the head of the European Commission's office in Slovenia, assured business representatives present that procedures would be run transparently and that businesses would get all the necessary information.

"However, the path ahead won't be easy, eleven months is little time," he said, adding that the European Commission had high ambitions for the future relationship with the UK. He said that the transition period could be extended by a year or two if the talks did not develop the way both sides wanted.

Tjaša Redek, a professor from the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics, presented an analysis which showed that Brexit would have only limited impact on Slovenia, with the negative impact on GDP growth projected at up to 0.03% in a decade.

Data for 2018 show that Slovenian companies exported EUR 577 million in goods and services to the UK, importing EUR 441 million.

The analysis also showed that Slovenian companies do not expect substantial negative consequences of Brexit, but they are preparing for the changes nonetheless and many are eyeing new markets.

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