16th of February, 2019, Angers – Albrecht Sonntag, professor at ESSCA (Angers), believes that Brexit will affect the regional economy. To what extent? That is another story….

Brexit is coming … Therefore, the question is: What are the consequences for companies in the Pays de la Loire region? A question that Albrecht Sonntag, professor at Essca, the Angers School of Management, discussed at a conference he organized in February.

Albrecht Sonntag

Will Brexit really have an impact on companies in the Pays de la Loire region?
First, this is an unprecedented event. It is clear that the closer you are to the United Kingdom, the more you have contacts with that country, both commercially and as a citizen, the more impact you will feel. Manufacturing, transport, whether by air, road or sea, including customs and tourism, will be very much affected. After that, it all depends on the degree of internationalization of a company. In Pays de la Loire, we have a good international dynamic. The United Kingdom is one of our direct neighbours, and as such very important to the economy of our territory.

Is this a disaster for the companies in the region?
We are not in a logic of disaster, we are in a logic of impact in the short or medium term. This adds a challenge to any company engaged in export activities. What is striking is the unprecedented nature of this event. This is the first time we move backwards.

Under these conditions, it would be logical for these companies to seek opportunities elsewhere. Is that the solution?
Seeking susbtitute markerts has not to be ruled out, it is an option, but I am rather prudent and not very optimistic. Everything is still very unclear. In any case, if there is an opportunity to derive any benefit from Brexit, it would be in the medium term.

What do you mean?
If, for example, a pastry producer in Pays de la Loire can no longer sell as many buns, in the United Kingdom, he will try to sell them elsewhere. This means, however, he will end up taking market share from someone else. It is not a small market that is changing, it is a very large partner of Europe and the single market. For many companies, it will not be possible to find alternative opportunities immediately.

How did it come to this?
There were good reasons to assume that with the country that invented pragmatism, common sense would eventually prevail, that no one had an interest in shooting themselves in the foot. In this final phase, we see that the United Kingdom seems to have entered a time when the irrational is perfectly capable of winning. The emotionality of political discourse takes its revenge on the purring of well-knit markets, such as that of the European Union. Brexit is a heart-break. The commercial consequences are significant, but I think the biggest loss of Brexit is the quality of British democracy.

This interview was made by Jean-Philippe NICOLEAU for Ouest France. The EU*Asia Institute just translated the interview into english.


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