Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) press release ‘Businesses on Brexit’ survey

Impact unclear, many entrepreneurs not prepared

October 17, 2018 - With fewer than 170 days to go until Brexit, its impact remains unclear for many Dutch entrepreneurs who do business in the United Kingdom. Moreover, a significant portion of those entrepreneurs is unprepared for Brexit. These were the findings of ‘Businesses on Brexit’ survey, which was published by the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) today.

The survey, distributed among members of the KVK Entrepreneurs Panel, revealed that 81% of entrepreneurs with business ties to the United Kingdom expect to be impacted by Brexit. Nearly 50% of those entrepreneurs are unclear as to what that impact will be. Some 39% of respondents are completely unprepared for Brexit, while 46% report being somewhat prepared and only 15% are well prepared. There is a significant correlation between the impact business owners expect Brexit to have and how effectively they have prepared. Those entrepreneurs who expect major consequences tend to have prepared themselves accordingly, while business owners who indicated that the impact is unclear have – much more often – not prepared themselves.

Poor business prospects due to Brexit

Some 35% of businesses rate their business prospects with regard to the United Kingdom as bad or very bad. This despite the fact that only 6% of business owners take such a view of the current situation. Some 37% of business owners expect a decrease in exports and 35% predict that imports will drop. Many business owners are adopting a neutral stance on their prospects. This, too, could be a result of uncertainty with regard to the exact consequences of Brexit.

More bureaucracy is concern number one

A majority (68%) of entrepreneurs who do business with the United Kingdom are concerned about extra administrative hassle as a result of Brexit. Other issues that concern people are levies and taxes (54%), import duties (51%), future differences in laws and regulations (51%), and delays at the border (49%). Other concerns frequently mentioned by respondents are ‘chaos at customs on both sides’ and ‘inflation and competitiveness’.

Doing business with the UK changes significantly

KVK CEO Claudia Zuiderwijk: ‘It would appear that in the run-up to Brexit, uncertainty regarding its impact is leading many Dutch business owners to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. But deal or no deal, it is clear that the reality of doing business with the United Kingdom will change, and that businesses will encounter new and unfamiliar aspects such as Customs formalities. It is vital that entrepreneurs take steps to prepare themselves, such as completing the Brexit Impact Scan found on the Dutch government’s ‘Brexitloket’ information website.’

Practical help in preparing for Brexit

The Dutch government and implementing bodies such as the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and KVK have introduced a number of tools in order to assist Dutch businesses in preparing for Brexit. On the ‘Brexitloket’ website, entrepreneurs can fill in a Brexit Impact Scan to discover how Brexit will impact their business, or request a Brexit voucher to obtain external advice. Business owners can also submit their questions about doing business with the United Kingdom or the changes that will accompany Brexit. More information on the Brexit tools (only in Dutch for Dutch businesses).

KVK Entrepreneurs Panel

The survey titled ‘Businesses on Brexit’ was carried out in the KVK Entrepreneurs Panel of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK Ondernemerspanel), which consists of more than 4000 self-employed workers and SMEs. 993 entrepreneurs engaged in international business were invited to fill out the survey. A total of 227 entrepreneurs from the KVK Entrepreneurs Panel who conduct business with the UK completed the questionnaire.

Download the ‘Businesses on Brexit’ study.