Although U.K. voters chose to leave the European Union on June 24, and the decision had a major negative impact on the world’s financial markets, at least one U.K. businessman says it’s steady-as-she-goes for cross-border ecommerce.
“Brexit means ‘don’t panic, don’t panic, it will all come good’,” said Alex Pratt, founder of direct-to-customer reading lamp seller Serious Brands, who is also the chairman of the CatEx Direct Commerce Association.
In an interview with Multichannel Merchant, Pratt said Brexit is certainly having an effect in the U.K., and that in the short term it’s brought all sorts of turmoil.
But Pratt said to look at the Brexit effect in a mature, measured way. The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world. It sells more to the European Union than it buys from the EU. And Pratt said the UK is actually the most online internet-savvy economy in the world, even more so than the U.S.
“In Europe, we are the most like the U.S., and we are open for business,” Pratt said. “We share a lot of common values and, of course, language, or at least parts of it.”
In the short term, Pratt said the U.K. economy is suffering a little bit because Brexit has produced some headwinds that weren’t there before. The exchange rate has plummeted about 10%. That means, for U.S. companies exporting over here that goods are more expensive.
But in the long term, Pratt said what we’re going to find is what was holding Europe back was perhaps a political drive for more and more integration between EU countries, without focusing as the EU should be doing on the trade benefits of working that much more closely together.
Pratt said there won’t be any major hiccups.
“We are a strong, stable economy, we export more to the U.S. and we import a lot from the U.S., and we’re really great trade partners,” Pratt said. “The relationship across the pond will continue to remain strong, and can be much stronger still.”
Pratt added that the Brexit vote is not a vote against Europe, not in any sense.
“You look at the Turkish coup, the terrorism in Nice, and the things that [Vladimir] Putin is doing in Russia, and you see the UK stepping forward and reassuring its allies that we’re not burying ourselves in a dark hole,” Pratt said.
According to Multichannel Merchant’s MCM Outlook 2016 survey, 31% of respondents sell cross-border into the U.K.