The journey ahead

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

I was tempted to write this blog with instant reflections on the EU referendum result on Friday, as we were all absorbing the outcome. But a short pause gives one a bit of time for reflection, if not real distance.

When speaking to members on Friday, I noted that for many businesses, little has changed immediately, but so much could change in the months and years ahead. I still think that is fundamentally right.

In the short term, many firms will simply get on with business just as they always have. Both in broadcast and print, I am championing our faith in the resilience and adaptability of the Norfolk business community that we represent.  Yes, many companies and sectors undoubtedly face important challenges around markets, exchange rates, margins and uncertainty in the coming weeks and months. Others will not, and could be emboldened if we can push successfully for stability, clarity and action on the big-ticket domestic economic decisions.

The medium term is where I see the greatest potential for some turbulence. Uncertainty around the terms of our actual exit from the EU and the terms of trade – both with Europe and globally – will be at its sharpest. Political challenges, such as the future of the United Kingdom, may also increase. Yet this gives us, as a Chamber network, crucial time to work with and support Chamber members and the Norfolk community they serve as we prepare for an unprecedented transition. We need to work together to make this happen.

The long term, ultimately, is what we make of it. We must ensure that medium-term uncertainty gives way to long-term success – both for Chamber member businesses and for the wider economy. We have a chance to shape a whole new UK approach to global trade, to which so many of our Chamber members are deeply and passionately committed. The Norfolk Chambers’ core function – connecting and supporting businesses locally and globally – will be more relevant than ever before.

So while we work through the immediate, practical consequences of the electorate’s choice, we will commit our time and energy to work together with partners in new ways to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead – in the interests of our Chamber members, Norfolk businesses and their trading relationships across the world.

Here’s to the journey ahead.

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