More Brexit reaction: Industry urged to build on trade links ‘despite the politicians’

Could the UK event industry be facing export carnets and restrictions of the past? asks EVCOM chairman Steve Garvey in the wake of the EU Referendum result.

The largest membership association for the live and visual communication industry issued a statement, 24 June, which said: “EVCOM supports the strongest possible trade links with the European Union, regardless of the UK’s membership of it. We urge the UK Government, the European Council and the European Commission to work closely and constructively towards an orderly exit for the UK from the EU.”

The statement noted the live and visual communication industry contributed 2% of UK GDP.“The success of EVCOM members in exporting to the EU and global markets is vital to the continued ability of our members to contribute to the success of the UK economy. Our members look to political leaders to provide stability, certainty and clarity at the earliest opportunity to support business decisions concerning investment, employment and international trade,” the statement continued.

“In particular we believe it is vital to continue to allow the free movement of people, capital, goods and services between the UK and the rest of Europe. While the UK will remain a member of the EU for some time, it is essential that our members are able to deliver events and produce screen content in the EU after the Brexit process is completed.”

Garvey told CN that EVCOM had become a founder member of the European Livecom Alliance, as a result of Brexit fears, and intended playing its part in fostering direct trade relations with fellow European professionals. “The point now is that there will be lots of complications and quite a bumpy ride. We need to build strong trade relationships, regardless of what the politicians may do.”

As the events industry started to digest the vote to Leave, other industry leaders joined the debate on how best to move forward.

Concerto Group chief executive Sam Gill said: “There is no doubt that the UK economy will be in a state of shock for the next few weeks. However, we must not forget that the underlying UK economy is growing and will remain one of the strongest in Europe as the negotiations proceed over the next two years.

“Having been through and survived many dips in business confidence over the past 30 years, I am confident that clients will continue to invest in events that add value to their staff morale and marketing activity.”

And CN sought a perspective from Brussels, from Hugo Slimbrouck, director of strategic partnerships at Ovation Global DMC. He saw the UK referendum vote as “the younger generation versus the older generation”, with the older generation “putting a load on the shoulders of the younger generation”.

Slimbrouck expected there to be fewer European conferences looking to come to the UK in future, not least because “the market does not like uncertainty”, although he said bargains were likely to be had with prices becoming cheaper in Britain.

Slimbrouck warned that UK politicians should think carefully about next steps. “The UK can’t just go out like that”.

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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