Following an initial 41% drop in UK goods going to the EU in January this year, Flanders Investment & Trade, the official regional body, has reported that they’re now seeing a return to pre-Brexit levels. Many UK companies have managed the challenges posed by Brexit by investing in a base in Flanders and trading with the EU from there. However, some companies are still struggling, with 11% of UK SMEs avoiding the EU and looking at other markets. To help these SMEs, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) is holding a free webinar for UK companies on 14th September 2021 at 10am (UK time).
Astrid Geeraerts, Head of Investment at FIT in London explained; “Flanders is one of the EU regions that has historically had the closest ties with the UK. Brexit has caused major logistical challenges for companies on both sides of the channel. Our government is keen to help UK companies with these challenges. It is in the economic interest of both countries that trade is not harmed by Brexit.”
The attractions of the region to SMEs, post Brexit, are numerous. Flanders has a friendly, closely connected community, that makes it very easy for UK companies to navigate. English is widely spoken, and the region has been independently assessed as one of the most highly productive countries in Europe. Despite this, living costs are comparatively low and up to 30% cheaper than France.
Peter Miles, CEO and co-founder of eHempHouse, is a serial entrepreneur with decades of experience in business. eHempHouse is giving off-grid hemp processing plants to African farmers to incentivise them to grow hemp and so reduce CO2 emissions. He explained why he’s accessing the EU through Flanders:
“Using Flanders to access the EU keeps things very simple. There are few, if any, language barriers and the people in Flanders make it clear that they’re keen to work with us and help us. It also costs us less than if we used other countries.”