Fiona Smith
Lisa Woodhouse

Meeting offers insight into post-Brexit trading arrangements  

There was a packed house at the latest meeting of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce International Trade Club when the UK’s post Brexit options were explained by Professor Fiona Smith, Professor of Economic Law at the University of Warwick’s School of Law. Professor Smith, who is a leading UK authority on international trade law under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was the keynote speaker at the event. Run by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce International Business Team and sponsored by Cassons, the International Trade Club aims to help importers and exporters develop their knowledge of current issues and share experiences. Professor Smith spoke about the options for UK trade policy after Brexit, summarising the current position with free trade across Europe. Attendees heard that the priority negotiation with the EU surrounds the terms of the UK’s departure and that it has not yet been decided when the discussions about trade between the UK and EU can commence. Professor Smith said she was optimistic that an agreement will be reached. Guest speaker Mike Spicer, Director of Research and Economics at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), talked about the impact of Brexit on international trade. Mr Spicer said Britain’s biggest trading partner is the EU and anticipated that this would continue to be the case. Mr Spicer said the UK had a skills gap within Whitehall when it came to negotiating trade deals as it is something the country has not had to do in the recent past. Helen Cowley, Tax Partner at Cassons, who had just returned from attending the BKR International conference in Singapore, spoke to delegates about the difference in VAT treatment between supplying end consumers and business customers. Carlton Cooper, Partner at Cassons, said: “It was wonderful to see so many businesses at the event. The talks were especially pertinent as both Fiona and Mike considered the implications for UK overseas trade post Brexit which resulted in some lively discussions.” Mandy Lockett, Director of International Trade at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce reiterated Mr Spicer’s comments and urged members to complete the Chamber’s economic surveys on a regular basis. Fellow guest speaker Laurie Thomas, Managing Director of the award-winning Vision Support Services, gave a fascinating insight into one of the world’s leading textile companies, which exports to 74 companies, with sourcing hubs in India, China and Pakistan, and international sales offices in Ireland and Dubai. Top tips from Laurie included taking time to build a strong brand, carry out research before entering a market and understanding what is truly important to your customers. The next International Trade Club breakfast meeting takes place on Thursday 13 July, 8-10.30am. For more information contact Marie White on 01254 356448 or email

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