Companies in Hamburg well prepared for Brexit, survey finds

Every second company considers itself "well" or "very well" prepared for Brexit
26 October 2020

One in two companies in Hamburg considers itself "well" or "very well" prepared for Brexit on January 1, 2021. Only 9 per cent of respondents were "not well" prepared, according to a survey of 105 companies by the Chamber of Commerce in September. The respondents, most of whom employ fewer than 50 persons, have active business relations with Britain and are in the wholesale, foreign trade, service and manufacturing sectors.

Precautions in Hamburg 

"The business community in Hamburg has not let itself be put off by the unforeseeable political developments since the announcement of Brexit and has taken the necessary precautions despite the corona pandemic," said Willem van der Schalk, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce. Over 70 per cent of the companies surveyed rated their current business relations with Britain as "good" or "satisfactory". More than  66 per cent of respondents expect business with Britain to develop unfavourably in the event of a "hard Brexit"  i.e. without a free trade agreement compared to 13 per cent who expect adverse developments even if a free trade agreement be reached. A majority of companies expect additional customs’ formalities and trade restrictions, increasing legal uncertainty e.g. when enforcing claims and growing regulatory differences between the EU and Britain despite a free trade agreement. Respondents also expressed fears of fluctuating exchange rates and declining demand.

Britain - an important trading partner

Around 1,000 companies in the city maintain close business relations with Britain, according to the Chamber of Commerce. Of these, around 200 companies have a permanent local branch or office, joint venture or production facility. Conversely, around 70 British companies are headquartered in Hamburg. Britain is Hamburg's third most important foreign trade partner after France and the People's Republic of China. The urban administration in Hamburg, headed by the Senate Chancellery's Brexit Coordination Office, has been preparing for Brexit since 2018. Companies and residents can learn more about the possible impact of Brexit and the current state of negotiations on its website.