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Trade and talent key priorities in Brexit talks

Small firms need clarity on issues such as trade and talent in the wake of the triggering of Article 50, according to FSB. 

On trade, National Chairman Mike Cherry called for the Government to push for “a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU based on ease and cost” and to help small businesses take advantage of new trade agreements. 

“Small business exporters tell us that the EU single market is still their top market of choice, but firms are also keen to focus on the US, China, Australia and Canada,” he said. “One-third of exporting small businesses have told us they would be deterred from trading with the EU if a tariff of between two and four per cent was imposed.”

FSB is also calling for clarity on access to skills, including those of EU citizens already based in the UK. “Access to the right skills at the right time is crucial for the success of a small business,” said Mr Cherry.

“One-fifth of FSB members with staff employ non-UK EU citizens, workers who are vital to the UK economy. The right to remain for these non-UK EU citizens must be guaranteed at the earliest opportunity to provide reassurance to smaller firms and their workforces.”

FSB intends to use the two-year window before the UK leaves the EU to fight for a deal that is favourable to small businesses, including continuing to influence EU law, which will become UK law, in that timeframe.