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No access to the EU single market - biggest risk

29 November 2017

The 8th Annual Compliance Conference, hosted by AEB in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (UK) in October 2017, revealed insights from business leaders across ten industry sectors in an industry survey on the risks, challenges, and opportunities in global trade under Brexit developments.

Survey findings deliver valuable benchmarks for traders and a call for urgent action. The new report from AEB also includes a global trade action plan template with useful check-points of preparation that every business needs to have on screen. The report can be downloaded free of charge at here.

Delegates consider “No access to the EU single market” their current biggest risk in global trade – cited by 62% of respondents.

This assessment reflects a 4% decrease to the 2016 survey results where this risk was ranked second by delegates with 66%. Last year’s top risk was “If the EU applies tariffs and quotas” with 74%, which now ranks second in the new 2017 results, cited by 57% of respondents.

The delegates’ assessment of greatest risks in the year-on-year comparison indicates both that work has begun to consider alternative sourcing options and that businesses see little progress on the side of Brexit negotiations, which is further confirmed by the latest report from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) in November 2017.

In the area of global trade challenges, 45% of delegates ranked “Managing increasing complexity and pressure” highest.

This reflects the same top challenge as last year, but with a 5% decrease from 50% in 2016, despite increasing complexity and pressures driven by, e.g., e-commerce, increasing customer expectations, and digitisation challenges. Meanwhile, respondents ranked “Managing expectations” – both external (customers and suppliers) and internal (different business units) – in place 2 and 3 of the greatest challenges in 2017, with 42% and 41% respectively.

Both moved up one rank from the 2016 results, reflecting an average increase of 4%.

This indicates that the ongoing uncertainty is taking a toll on companies involved in global trade and is affecting business relationships as well as future planning.

When it comes to the key areas of opportunity and investment, delegates consider implementing appropriate tools a top priority – with 87%.

This is very much in line with both digitisation challenges and the drastic skills shortage the global trade and supply chain management sector is facing.

It also indicates increasing awareness of the urgency and importance of the right level of automation, integration, and flexibility to ensure competitiveness and business contingency in dynamic markets subject to uncertainty.