As I said before, it’s not in the EU’s interest to give the UK a good deal but negotiations will hopefully try to take all aspects into consideration. This may mean that changes will have to take place when it comes to trading with the UK.” As for the positives, Malta could benefit if international businesses decide to shift their base from the UK to Malta, and there are already potential moves in the pipeline. “There seems to be quite a bit of interest in Malta and not only from companies in the financial services but also from companies in other sectors such as manufacturing. We have to acknowledge that we’re not likely to become a major player by any stretch of the imagination, but we do have the opportunity to attract some interesting companies to Malta. Things on this front will likely become clearer in the next few months as international businesses in the UK determine whether they can still see a future there,” Mr Mallia continues. So, as we stand at the crossroads of discovering the UK’s future role in the EU and vice-versa, it seems there are two possible 46
“I have also recommended to the Chamber of Commerce that once the negotiations start and results start emerging that an exercise is undertaken to ‘scientifically’ understand what the economic impacts will be.”
scenarios for how things will pan out. “On the one hand, things could move very quickly because the UK wants to get things done as quickly as possible to remove all uncertainty,” Mr Mallia suggests. “However, I have to admit this is unlikely – there’s a lot going on in the next two years, including major elections across Europe, and there are likely to be a number of sticking points not least amongst them the exit bill the UK will be asked to pay before actually leaving the EU.” “If things do drag on, this could lead to the UK feeling like it’s getting a bad deal and walking away, and this certainly wouldn’t be good for them. But I don’t think that will happen.” Thus, it seems that Brexit will remain a ‘wait and see’ situation that will become clearer over the next 18 months. “A lot of
work has already been done, is being done and will be done. The EESC will be monitoring developments as they take place, and then taking a proactive role by setting out our views on the outcomes from an employer perspective; there will be other views given by trade unions and civil society. “Meanwhile, my recommendation would be that any company currently trading with the UK carries out a thorough assessment based on a worst case scenario. I have also recommended to the Chamber of Commerce that once the negotiations start and results begin emerging, that an exercise is undertaken to ‘scientifically’ understand what the economic impacts will be. Because, while it is impossible to foresee the outcome of Brexit, it is important to do as much as we can to ready ourselves for it,” Mr Mallia concludes. cc APRIL / MAY 2017
The Official Business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry since 1947.