South West Business Council December Virtual Conference Highlights

By | |

As we move to a brave new world of trade, this is the time to look at our own businesses as we in turn look at global opportunities. Throughout the morning, presentations focused on the need to develop through collaboration and partnerships, as a win/win, and in sustainable ways.

We were delighted to have HRH Queen Diambi Kabatusuila of Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo as our keynote speaker, who shared valuable insights into trading with Africa, a continent looking for win/win opportunities in investment and trade that aligns with the UN’s goals for sustainable development.

Reflecting on the conference, Her Royal Highness said:

“This is wonderful, the human family will eventually come together guided by common sense and basic decency to reframe the way we work together”

There was also good news from the South West in the update from Tim Jones, Chair, SWBC:

As we come to the end of a very difficult year, it has been good to see the region seeing a resurgence in traditional industries (such as mining) across the South West. Also good to see some substantial developments in the area, a care village at Buckfast Abbey which will be the largest development in Dartmoor National Park area and some good news of an emerging opportunity at Exeter Airport which has understandably really struggled through 2020 with turnover down 90% as a result of COVID19.

There are other good initiatives on the horizon – a freeport or free trade area initiative which is a concept which has been successful in Europe, the Far East and the States.

On the infrastructure front, the spending review has now confirmed that the Stonehenge tunnel will progress, opening up a second route into the South West. This specific £1.2bn investment could produce a £4bn payback for the region alone.

Also, the upgrade of the A358, joining the A303 to the M5 at Taunton has also been authorised, something else that SWBC has been lobbying on for a while. There is also a further £500m allocation for restoring transport links – including the formal reopening of the Okehampton line to Exeter as well as stations at Wellington and Cullompton and Edginswell.

The update from the Department for International Trade highlighted many changes ahead, not least that there should be no more talk of ‘Brexit’, rather the narrative is all about UK Transition.

We would like to highlight the following links which will help all those looking to stay informed and get prepared:

and a Jargon buster from International Trade Matters:

Ben Travers of Stephen Scown gave a great presentation, providing several top tips for all interested in overseas trade:

  1. When looking at new territories, do not underestimate how different the rules may be
    • eg Germany, where the German system means that any business exhibiting at a trade show has to check that they are not treading on anyone else’s brand/IP).
    • eg, China, where the approach to ‘first to file’ means that the date of application is very important. It is crucial to consider the whole registry process very carefully, and especially in relation to using local agents.
  2. Agents and Distributors – do not appoint either until you’ve done adequate homework. From a legal point of view. Be aware that in some regions, distributors can acquire more rights than you over your brand.
  3. Transition time – make sure you understand what it means about representation

He also mentioned:

  • the impact on domain names. If you own a .eu domain name, you will lose your ownership at the end of the transition time
  • labelling – again look out for the changes in guidance, and of course
  • GDPR – make sure you understand when you have to have a representative in the EU and especially if you employ EU citizens

With our thanks to all our speakers:

  • Paul Shand, Head of Trade, South West Department of International Trade
  • Ben Travers, Head of IP and IT, Stephens Scown LLP
  • Janet Sawyer MBE, Executive Chair, Little Pod Ltd
  • Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director, Centre for Brexit Studies, Birmingham City University
  • Chris Walklett, International Tax Partner & Wendy Andrews, Director of VAT, Bishop Fleming LLP
  • Darren Horne, CEO & Dr Aili Zhu Aspen Waite China UK
  • Rob Cochrane, South West China Alliance
  • Siddharth Mukne, Associate Director at UK India Business Council
  • HRH Queen Diambi Kabatusuila of Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo & Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of the African Diaspora
  • Craig Carey-Clinch, Managing Director, Rowan Public Affairs

More information from all these presentations will follow with video clips soon. If you would like to know more, or wish to join SWBC as a member, please contact us.