Foreign businesses view the UK’s vote for Brexit with a mixture of apprehension, uncertainty and optimism, according to research by Newcastle law firm Ward Hadaway.
The company, which also offices in Leeds and Manchester, canvassed opinion from firms in the Geneva Group International, a worldwide body of professional services companies, of which it is a member.
Accountants and lawyers from Europe, Asia, Australia, the Far East and the USA contributed to the Ward Hadaway study, showing a range of opinions on Brexit.
Reactions received ranged from surprise and fears of a downturn in trade to those who thought the move could be a positive one for the UK and for their own country.
Colin Hewitt, partner and head of dommercial at Ward Hadaway, said: “Whilst a lot has been said and written about Brexit from a UK point of view, there has been comparatively little attention paid to what our trading partners make of the vote when in many cases, they will be having to deal with the consequences of Britain leaving the EU almost as much as us.
“As a result, we thought it was important to see what our fellow members of GGI and their countrymen felt about Brexit to get a broader perspective on what it could mean for our clients and for business as a whole.
“GGI has over 500 member firms based in more than 120 countries across the world so it was an ideal way to test the international water on Brexit – and the responses proved to add up to an intriguing mix of opinions and analysis.”
Chief among the responses was the view that Brexit will create greater problems for the EU than Britain, with one saying: “Instead of wracking one’s brains considering the ramifications of Brexit for the UK, it seems to me that the potential consequences for the EU are far more alarming.”
Outside of the EU, an Australian advisor complained that Brexit would remove a link between Australia and the EU, while professions in China and the US also raised concerns that the vote would harm the world economy.
A contribution to the study from India said Brexit could help that country, however, saying that “we believe that Brexit will have a favourable impact on the trade relations between the two countries.”
Mr Hewitt said: “This exercise has produced an intriguing mix of opinions from professionals around the world, demonstrating that Brexit is engaging the minds of people many thousands of miles from the UK.
“It also underlines the fact that, wherever people are from, no-one has all the answers to the many questions which Brexit has brought about.”