Business: "Brexit frightened off Flemish newcomers"

Brexit seems to have changed little when it comes to the amount Flemish companies are exporting to the UK.  Dirk Verlee, Flanders Investment and Trade’s representative in the UK, says companies that were active, mostly remained active, but newcomers were frightened off by the prospect of difficulties and uncertainty.

No growth in the years following the pandemic lockdowns, isn’t a good result, but it's one that is better than expected, the Flemish Investment and Trade agency says. Flemish companies showed a lot of resilience. FIT too provides a lot of advice. A special grant is also available for companies wanting to do business with the UK after Brexit, though the subsidy scheme ends soon. Mr Verlee also points to the effort made by Belgian customs.

The UK remains the fourth most important export destination for Flemish companies. This is true today, as it was before Brexit. In an interview with VRT marking the third anniversary of Britain’s leaving the EU, the FIT representative says there’s quite a lot of homework that still needs to be done by the UK authorities: e.g., controls on imported foods are not clear, neither is quality certification or are the rules on labelling. 

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the implementation of Brexit, British PM Rishi Sunak repeated that Brexit is a huge opportunity for the UK. He says enormous progress has been achieved. Economic data however contradict that statement. According to the International Monetary Fund, the UK will be the only G7 country to have negative economic growth in 2023, namely -0.6 per cent.

A new Bloomberg estimate shows Brexit has cost the British economy 114 billion euros a year. Another estimate argues the British economy would have been 4 per cent bigger today, if Brexit hadn’t happened. In the latest opinion poll, 56 per cent of Brits say Brexit was a bad thing. Only 32 per cent are convinced of the opposite.

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