Right now there’s a roaring Brexit debate going on in the United Kingdom surrounding October 31 2019. For anyone who has been following events since the UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016, you know that’s the day when the British government has said they are leaving ‘one way or another’.
Usually another country having a trade tiff with partner – unless it’s a major one – is unlikely to have a massive sudden impact to us here in Australia. But Brexit is one of those exceptions, where the local tech industry could wake up to a very different world on November 1 2019 if the ‘status quo’ continues now.
Either way, it’s essential for local Aussie businesses and consumers to understand what this latest chapter in the Brexit battle means, and how the tech industry has already been impacted forever by this issue.
Why Should Aussies Care?
At the outset it’s important to acknowledge an elephant in the room here. Particularly for anyone living here in Australia, or otherwise far from the day by day events in the UK. Brexit is an issue one many in the tech world could be forgiven for thinking ‘why does it matter to me?’. Especially because there’s a lot of people outside the UK asking this question about Brexit altogether.
Many people may think they’ll need to factor in Brexit if they one day plan (another) trip to the British Isles, but otherwise feel like it won’t be a big deal in their lives. The reality is though it could be, especially if London continues to go down a course that will mean more turbulence in their economy, and the global economy generally.
The impact of something like a ‘no deal’ Brexit could be really substantial around the world, and could be a case of ‘for better or worse’, depending on where your business is located. As a totally separate country with our economic future in Asia, Australia is well-positioned to carry on no matter what happens in London.
Mateship in Global Trade
Yet Canberra has been seeking a free trade deal with the European Union in recent years; and this Brexit issue has thrown a spanner in the works. Because the UK is likely going to leave the EU, and so Australia will likely need a new deal with the UK once they are out.
The UK and Australia remain close so there is unlikely to be major barriers to get a deal done, but it’s also true that ever since the UK joined the Common Market in the 1970’s and more or less ‘cut Australia loose’, Canberra has since cemented its economic future in Asia. So while we’re always happy to ‘do a deal with a mate’, we can’t wind back the clock just because London feels like it now.
Especially because, the damage is Brexit isn’t just incoming but has already been done. If you’re an Aussie tech business that was planning an expansion to the UK in 2016, once news arrived that Britain was set to leave the EU then suddenly your future was all up in air.
Could you headquarter in London and still trade in the EU? Would you now have to deal with a whole ton of new taxes and tariffs? Would it just be better to HQ on the continent even if your French language skills suck?
These are the questions Aussie businesses and countless others like them around the world have had to face. Because they are being asked, immense damage is being done to renowed UK tech hubs like Shoreditch, London – AKA ‘Sillicon Roundabout’, Bristol, Leeds and Co.
British Companies Coming Down Under?
Alongside the difficulty Brexit poses for any tech business looking to base in the UK, there’s also the reality that many businesses may now look to move to the EU or elsewhere to trade. For most tech companies headquartered in the UK that want to stay nearby, shifting to the Republic of Ireland or across the channel to France is seen as the most obvious option.
But there is also the potential for businesses to move further afield. Ones who may have been looking to primarily focus on the EU market may now find the Brexit issue as a good reason to look to a Bay Area setup, and to leverage the San Francisco location as a springboard to Asia.
The same even applies to major tech scenes across Australia, like those found in Sydney and Melbourne. This should not be misread as proof positive UK tech brands like Deliveroo will be relocating their global headquarters in Australia soon.
As ultimately even with a bad Brexit deal occurring, the UK will still have a lot going for it, and have some form of trade with the EU in future. Many companies will decide it’s worth it to just ‘ride it out’, and see what happens with Brexit overall.
But it’s also true that many businesses have left or signalled their intention to. Recognising that Brexit isn’t a single event, but an ongoing saga – and that even if the UK gets a final outcome one way or the other – there’s still likely to be a few more years of turbulence before the nation returns to anything close to the stability it had before this event. Given how fast the tech sector moves, hoping for the best and hanging around for a few years just isn’t on the cards.
For tech consumers in Aus it’s likely Brexit might delivery some small financial pain – like higher prices on some goods – but overall the impact should be pretty minimal. Given the days have long since passed where most of our trade was done with the UK.
For tech businesses in Aus it could be a different story, depending on how connected your business is with the UK and the EU, and especially if you had any expansion plans into those markets. On the upside, whatever happens in London there could be opportunity to draw new clients to your business here in Australia.
After all, thanks to the rise of the digital economy, it’s possible to serve clients brilliantly whether they are located in Melbourne or Manchester. It just requires great customer service and great technology behind it.
Speaking of, we’re always at the ready to serve any business in Melbourne, Australia and can offer a number of remote services and support to clients further afield. Whether it’s software updates, acquisition of new hardware, network security, or any other service you may need for your business.
We’re always here and at the ready to help you, contact us via (03) 9555-6684 in Australia or email email@example.com anytime from anywhere in the world!
Until next time, happy teching!
Paul & the HorizonTech Team