Pessimism over Brexit negotiations from UK-based foreign businesses

02 Nov 2017, Lina Sennevall

Pessimism over Brexit negotiations from UK-based foreign businesses

A new survey has revealed that Swedish businesses in the UK are less concerned about the impact of Brexit now than before the referendum took place but an overwhelming majority believe that a deal will not be achieved by the deadline in March 2019.

The survey was conducted with 12 other foreign Chambers in the UK by market research company Ipsos MORI and 112 Swedish companies participated.

An overwhelming majority (78 percent) of Swedish businesses in the UK said they are either “not very” or “not at all confident” that a positive outcome for the UK will be achieved from the Brexit negotiations by March 2019, the date the UK will officially leave the EU. Just a fifth take an optimistic view on the outcome of the Brexit deal.

The survey also found that almost half of the Swedish businesses in the UK believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on future investments in the UK over the next five to ten years. However, almost a third believed that Brexit will have no impact at all on future investments while 11 percent said they believe the impact will be positive.

Twelve percent said they do not know what the outcome will be, reflecting the current status of uncertainty as the EU and the UK struggle to reach agreements in the ongoing divorce talks.

Ulla Nilsson, SCC’s Managing Director, said: “The survey clearly shows there is still great uncertainty with regards to a new trade agreement and the possibilities to achieve it before the deadline in March 2019. And this of course has a negative impact on future investments for most businesses”.

A similar survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI in May last year before the EU referendum took place in the UK. In that survey, 75 percent of Swedish companies operating in the UK said Brexit would be bad for business and only 2 percent that it would have a positive impact.

If comparing the two surveys, companies now seem to have a slightly more optimistic view on Brexit or is taking a “wait and see” approach before it can properly assess the full impact.

According to the recent survey, the fundamental issues that Swedish companies would like to see addressed in the Brexit negotiations are solutions on trade deals, access to the internal market and access to workers from abroad. 

Another concern was the continued regulatory alignment with the EU which almost a third of Swedish companies see as one of the key issues that need to be addressed.

Nilsson said: “It’s not surprising that at the top of the agenda of the Brexit negotiations for Swedish business is smooth access to the EU market both for goods and services, but also good access to both high and low-skilled work force and regulatory alignment with EU.”

The total result from the 13 participating Chambers, showed clear pessimism over the Brexit negotiations from UK-based foreign businesses.

The overwhelming majority (82 percent) of foreign businesses said they are either “not very” or “not at all confident” that a positive outcome will be achieved from the Brexit negotiations. Just one in eight (13 percent) take an optimistic view on the likely outcome of these negotiations.

The survey of member companies also revealed that a majority (55 percent) thinks the likely effect of Brexit on future investments by their companies in the UK, will be negative. One in five (22 percent) think their decrease in investment will be greater than 10 percent.

By contrast only one in ten think Brexit will have a positive impact on their future investments in the UK.

One in five respondents said their assessment of the current state of the UK economy is positive. In contrast, 53 percent had a negative perception.

Pessimism is rather more marked for views on the UK economy over the next five to ten years; with 60 percent saying their views are negative compared with 20 percent saying they were positive.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: 1,046 members of the 13 Chambers of Commerce (see list below) took part in an online survey conducted by Ipsos MORI between 7 and 23 October. These companies all have operations in the UK.

PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES: America, Belgium-Luxembourg, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and CCPIT (China Council for the promotion of International Trade)

For further information, please contact: Ulla Nilsson, Managing Director of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce on +44 (0) 207 7224 8001 or nilsson@scc.org.uk

Florence Gomez, Managing Director of the French Chamber of Great Britain on +44 (0) 2070 926 603 or fgomez@ccfgb.co.uk

For technical information, please contact Brian Gosschalk, Head of President’s Office of Ipsos MORI on +44 (0) 7800675930 or brian.gosschalk@ipsos.com 

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