Have you noticed a change in the number of companies or in the types of enquiries as the Brexit developments progress?
Yes, we have seen an uptick of more than 54 percent over the past year in the number of enquiries coming from the UK. And in our international ranking of the most requests and investment projects, the UK has moved from ranking fourth to ranking second overall since the Brexit vote. Nearly all of these companies cite Brexit as a reason for considering an investment in Germany.
And when our industry experts travel the world attending trade fairs and meeting with companies, they say that the interest could be even greater, but many are just waiting to see how the final Brexit deal will look before they make concrete plans to shift resources or relocate.
The types of enquiries have not changed dramatically. For example, the same sectors that have always led the way for investment projects – financial services, IT and software – continue to rank at the top.
What are companies’ main concerns for their European operations around Brexit?
At the moment, the biggest factor weighing on businesses is uncertainty. Several companies located here – German, British, North American and Asian firms – say the worst part is not knowing what to prepare for. They say even a so-called Hard Brexit would not be ideal, but it would be manageable if they could begin preparations well in advance. Right now most companies are in a holding pattern, waiting for a final arrangement before deciding how to adjust. Only the largest international corporations have invested in full Brexit preparations.
More concretely, companies are worried about everything ranging from changes in customs rules, certifications and labeling of products, recruiting personnel from outside the UK, chemical and medical device regulations, passporting for financial institutions, supplier contracts, logistics and warehousing, rules of origin for complex manufactured products that pass back and forth across the English Channel several times during production, and a host of other concerns. There are many more question marks than answers at the moment.