On 1 November, in the run-up to Brexit, the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK (CCCUK) held a lecture for Chinese enterprises on Brexit response. The lecture was attended by Mr. CAO Li, Vice Chairman of the CCCUK, Ms. CHANG Yun, Vice Chairman of the CCCUK and more than 80 delegates from the CCCUK’s member enterprises. During the lecture, experts from Bird & Bird International Law Firm and Grant Thornton explained the various scenarios of Brexit and the risks and opportunities it brings; they also introduced strategies for Chinese enterprises to cope with Brexit, providing support for members to plan ahead.
At the Lecture
Welcome Speech by David Kerr, CEO of Bird & Bird
David Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of Bird & Bird International Law Firm, welcomed the CCCUK’s members and said that Brexit is one of the most important issues to attend for Chinese enterprises in the UK. The UK had always maintained good trade relations with other countries and regions around the world, including China. He believed that Brexit will not affect the UK’s future position in world trade. He hoped that the lecture would help Chinese enterprises to make good use of Brexit and turn the challenges into opportunities.
Adam Jackson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy Insight at Grant Thornton Explaining the Impact of Brexit on Trade and Investment
Adam Jackson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy Insight at Grant Thornton, explained the Brexit process and its impact on trade and investment from political, economic and social perspectives. He noted that Brexit was the biggest change in the UK economy and society in 80 years, and that such fundamental changes created huge opportunities as well as significant risks. There are three broad categories of possible future scenarios for Brexit: one is a no-deal Brexit, i.e. a “hard Brexit”, meaning that no agreement is reached between the UK and the EU on the terms of the WTO; the second one is an orderly Brexit, meaning that the UK reaches a free trade agreement with the EU after a transition period; and the third one, a “soft Brexit”, where the UK remains in the Single Market (EEA membership) and the Customs Union. He advised Chinese companies to “plan ahead” and explained how to assess and plan for the various possibilities of Brexit in terms of market, supply chain, location, laws & regulations, data, taxation, operations, employment and future growth strategies.
Brexit Experts from Bird & Bird Explaining the Challenges and Opportunities Arising from Brexit for Chinese Enterprises
Afterwards, experts from Bird & Bird International Law Firm’s Brexit team gave a comprehensive and detailed presentation on the hot issues of concern to Chinese enterprises and the challenges and opportunities they brought. Firstly, the experts sorted out the key points of Brexit and introduced the contents of the self-checklist for Chinese enterprises. Taking commercial contracts as an example, the experts advised companies to focus on contracts involving entities within the EU, such as agreements on intellectual property, distribution, manufacturing and agency. In terms of investment and mergers and acquisitions, an expert on business law mentioned that Brexit may bring about a potential devaluation of the pound, which would then lead to UK enterprises seeking more strategic investment and cooperation with Chinese investors. In terms of corporate talent strategies, an expert on labour law said that there was no clear indication that UK labour law would change significantly as a result of Brexit. As Brexit will affect employees deployed to work in the UK and EU nationals and their families, the expert also highlighted the procedures for EU nationals working in the UK after Brexit and advised Chinese enterprises to be well prepared for it.
Guests Discussing with Experts
The lecture helped delegates gain an in-depth understanding of the various possibilities and implications of Brexit, and provided positive assistance and guidance for Chinese enterprises in their future strategic and policy planning. After the lecture, delegates also had a lively consultation and exchange with the experts.