What will be the implications of Brexit on the the region’s businesses and economy?
That’s the all-important question which has been explored in a newly released report, commissioned by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The initiative, supported by Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, has led to some significant challenges and opportunities being identified.
In particular, the report, compiled by Metro Dynamics, looked closely at how certain sectors might feel the impact – those being Agriculture, Manufacturing, Construction, Offshore Wind Energy and Digital and Life Sciences.
Among the challenges and opportunities it identifies are:
• Retaining the current EU workforce, both low and highly skilled, who are key to the future success of some of Norfolk and Suffolk’s most important sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and life sciences
• New opportunities to uplift the economy, using innovation and technology to upskill the workforce and create better paid jobs
• The need for companies to adjust to new trade arrangements and potential tariffs and other barriers, while using the opportunity to increase the UK share of their supply chains and open their products to new markets worldwide
• The importance of ensuring continued funding for research and development and innovation, as well as alternative sources of funding for agriculture and farming businesses that often rely on EU subsidies
• The need to continue to be attractive to foreign investment
The report outlines a number of policy recommendations for local authority partners to consider. These include refocussing business support to more proactively reach out to businesses which could have opportunities for growth or be more challenged by Brexit, strengthening place marketing and inward investment and collaborating with other regions and sectors where there is common interest in reaching out to new markets or designing new products.
Doug Field, Chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “This comprehensive piece of research highlights some of the possible impacts of Brexit, including challenges for the local labour force and for funding and investment.
“We know that Brexit will have a significant impact and while there are still a number of uncertainties, it is useful to be able to see a fuller picture of how our key sectors may be impacted. It means we’re now well informed to look at the role the LEP and local authority partners can play in supporting businesses to be ready for March 2019.
“The report’s findings underline the priority themes identified in the new Economic Strategy for Norfolk and Suffolk – strengthening our offer to the world, helping businesses to drive growth and productivity and collaborating to grow by ensuring sectors work more closely together for mutual benefit.”
New Anglia LEP is already working with partners on a number of initiatives within the priorities identified in the report.
• Using the opportunity to develop a Local Industrial Strategy to reinforce the sector specialisms that Norfolk and Suffolk have. The area is actively pursuing the opportunity with central Government to be a pilot area.
• The LEP is leading on the development of a shared inward investment strategy, which will aim to enable an integrated inward investment and business location offer and will include activity around building a stronger place offer and proposition to help attract new infrastructure investment and non-EU foreign direct investment.
• The LEP is working with the New Anglia Growth Hub, Chambers of Commerce and the Department for International Trade to explore how collectively we can enhance the international trade service for our businesses which have the greatest potential for overseas trade.
This report follows the publication last year (February 2017) of research into the value of European Union grant funding in the region, which showed that over £365million and £1.54billion from the European Investment Bank has been received across Norfolk and Suffolk since 2007.