As Michel Barnier likes to say, 'the clock is ticking'. In corporate terms it is 'ten minutes to midnight' before the UK leaves the EU . So why is it US corporates are so relaxed about the situation?
Some companies have a BREXIT team in the same way as they have a compliance team, or export trade team. But virtually no US corporate seems to be discussing BREXIT at a strategic board level.
There are a number of reasons stated:
1. uncertainty - because no one is yet clear on what BREXIT means, companies are hamstrung to take definitive action
2. 'it'll be alright on the night' - there seems to be a belief that Europe and the UK will ultimately do a deal and things will remain broadly the same
3. 2019 is far away - the focus on the next quarter or two quarters' results suggests BREXIT is still something to deal with in due course
4. US domestic issues - Trump administration changes still dominate the picture, yet those tax changes are yet to materialise
5. our local teams are relaxed - the fact European business teams are not raising the stakes and are continuing to transact as normal
This lack of focus on BREXIT is a big mistake. Boards should have it as a discussion item at each meeting and not as an AOB item at the end of the meeting. Once US boards start focussing on the issue, the sea change in pressuring the respective negotiators should intensify. The US business community must play an active role in ensuring BREXIT makes business sense.
Barnier dismisses UK calls to be "flexible" on Brexit