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26 February 2021 - Reinhard Wirtz

"Many people remain completely unclear about the consequences of Brexit."

Brexit

The effects of leaving the EU on business and trade in the United Kingdom

Peter Decu, who is himself from Bremen, is representing the state of Bremen in London, for Bremeninvest.
Peter Decu, who is himself from Bremen, is representing the state of Bremen in London, for Bremeninvest. © Peter Decu, Brelon Ltd.

Peter Decu represents Bremen in London. He knows the British industrial landscape and is convinced that many companies are only just starting to feel the full effects of Brexit.

Peter Decu is the Managing Director of the British company Brelon Ltd. and became the London business partner of Bremeninvest, Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH (WFB)'s business arm abroad, at the start of the year. An expert in the export trade, he previously spent 31 years at Handelshaus C. Melchers GmbH & Co. KG, 23 years of which were as head of its Shanghai office. He is now running the marketing campaign for the state of Bremen with his company, Brelon Ltd., on behalf of the WFB.

Mr. Decu, how would you describe the state of mind in industry, in the UK?
Peter Decu: The response to Brexit here is almost equally divided, reflecting the results of the original referendum. My impression is that many people have not yet realised the extent to which the United Kingdom's departure from the EU and its associated consequences will affect them.

Since spring 2020, the urgency of the Corona pandemic and the emergency measures implemented by companies to combat its effects have shifted the focus in an entirely different direction. My feeling is that some companies are now starting to experience a kind of disillusionment and a sober awakening to the realities of what Brexit will mean for the United Kingdom.

What help can you offer companies in Bremen that have maintained business relationships with British partners over the years and are now confronted by significant problems due to Brexit?

Peter Decu: They will certainly have to face many very different challenges. The administrative burdens and changes resulting from Brexit, affecting cross-border trade, are definitely the greatest challenge. The advantage of using Brelon, as a company, is that we have expertise in finding solutions that can be tailored to meet individual requirements.

What strategic options are available for international companies that have previously supplied markets in the EU from their British base?

Peter Decu: There are of course international companies that used the United Kingdom in this way, before the Brexit referendum, and are now outside the EU, looking in, as a result of the vote for Brexit. Consequently, it is not just British companies, but also these international companies, that are starting to ask if they should relocate to the European mainland. Depending on a company's business model, a wide range of approaches might be taken to that question, and we would like to offer Bremen as a potential place to relocate to, when they are thinking about it.

What options are there for international companies?

Peter Decu: There are no limits to what they could do: they need to find the right solution for them, whether it is a liaison office, the complete relocation of a production plant or some kind of storage facility abroad, for serving the market quickly, or something else. As a location, Bremen has certain advantages, which are worthy of emphasis, and which clearly distinguish it from other providers. The state of Bremen has an experienced business development team which provides outstanding support to help newcomers establish themselves effectively. We are hoping to succeed in finding suitable companies that want to relocate there.

The Corona pandemic is just exacerbating all kinds of problems that were created by Brexit. How can companies become active partners in Bremeninvest's activities?

Peter Decu: Currently, that can only be done digitally. Even so, we can give a partner the feeling that they are actually present, locally in London, and are therefore accessible to others. World-wide, we have generally seen that our old accustomed habits of international business travel will continue to be extremely restricted for some considerable time. Thanks to the corona virus, it is therefore also an advantage to be here, in London, represented by WFB. The corona virus crisis makes a physical presence essential, when serving the market.

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