Glasgow has one of the lowest exposures to the European Union out of 62 cities and towns across the UK.
It is 54th with 40% of its exports relying on European markets, according to the Centre for Cities using official figures from the Office of National Statistics.
The city’s top country market remains the United States with 15%. Germany and France are the largest individual EU country markets each with 6%.
But whilst Glasgow’s exposure to the EU sits below the national urban average of 46%, it is still clearly substantial. Importantly, if you take all the EU countries together as a single market, it is by far our most important export market outside the UK.
At its annual conference at the end of February, the British Chambers of Commerce issued a guide to the issues affecting Chamber members from Brexit. The report followed meetings with over 400 member companies, including around a dozen from Glasgow Chamber.
There are some basic messages - minimising trade tariffs, avoiding non-tariff barriers such as new local regulations and product standards, continuing the benefits from existing EU free trade agreements with third countries until new ones are agreed and ensuring there is no sudden break with the EU in 2019.
But since individual Chambers are actively involved in trading through providing advice on the documentation needed to get goods into foreign markets, there are also some very specific requests around rules of origin, customs procedures and the possible use of Free Trade Zones to make it as easy as possible to maintain the complex supply chains in which our members are often involved.
For Glasgow Chamber the focus has been on striking up practical new relationships with fellow Chambers overseas.
We have signed formal agreements with Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and with the British Chambers of Commerce in Italy in Milan - and we’re in the early stages of doing the same with Berlin Chamber of Commerce, with the added incentive of getting the maximum trading benefit from Berlin and Glasgow jointly hosting the inaugural multi-sport European Championships in 2018.
In each case we are planning several member exchange visits and a sustained expansion of our business contact networks.
And here is the good news. Both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government have been supportive with practical measures, irrespective of any political disagreements. Long may that continue.
Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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