While the UK has been focused on Brexit uncertainty, the next challenge will be understanding how the country can remain prosperous in a declining global economy, said CIPS economist John Glen.
The results of the General Election on 12 December could resolve some of the political uncertainty experienced in the UK, but the decline of global trade will present a new challenge in a post-Brexit landscape, Glen told procurement professionals at the CIPS UK Conference in London.
“Going forward, we will have to start to look outward, irrespective of our view on Brexit and understand how we're going to be able to work efficiently, competitively, productively, sustainably and ethically in that global environment, which is going to become slightly more challenging.”
The UK has been fairly insular over the last couple of years and in this time the global economy has been slowing down, while trade wars such as the one between the US and China threaten trade growth.
Despite political uncertainty, the British economy has remained strong, with high employment levels and controlled inflation.
“We have to respect the fact that we've done well over the last 10 to 12 years in a very challenging environment. We are a relatively robust economy, we have built a successful economy. We built an economy where a large proportion of our citizens enjoy relatively secure employment and relatively good terms and conditions of employment,” Glen said.
Since Boris Johnson became prime minister in July 2019, and Michael Gove began to lead Brexit preparations, the UK government is more prepared for Brexit and is listening to the procurement profession about what it needs, Glen said.
“The government has massively improved our preparedness for leaving the European Union. Somebody described it to me as 'preparedness on steroids'. There's a palpable change in the way it is preparing. They are hearing what the profession is saying and they are listening to more of it.”
As preparations continue, Glen added the country is likely to receive a lesser version of Operation Brock, the plan to queue lorries on the M20 in Kent. Instead customs clearance will be completed away from Dover at pop-up centres which have been set up in 10 countries to process UK freight. Drivers who have not completed customs clearance documentation ahead of their arrival at these centres face being turned away.
“The logistics professionals are suggesting there should be customs clearance capabilities at the [pop-up] centres which would allow the driver and the organisation to get the goods cleared at that point.
“One thing you need to do is go back to your organisation and make sure you've got customs clearance sorted out. That is one thing that's going to cause you a lot of grief,” he said.
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