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Brexit trade impact could see Wrexham and Flintshire economies lose £300m a year

BREXIT could cost the economies of Wrexham and Flintshire as much as £300m a year, new research suggests.

The UK left the EU at the end of last year after the end of the initial transition period.

While a late trade deal was agreed to prevent tariffs being imposed, some businesses have faced extra regulatory burdens when exporting goods, resulting in a fall in profits.

Details of a report produced by financial advisory company Grant Thornton have now revealed the major impact Brexit could have on trade in the two North Wales counties.

The study conducted on behalf of the Welsh Local Government Association shows low skilled workers are most at risk of redundancy as the true effects of the split are felt.

The findings are set to be discussed by councillors in Flintshire at a virtual meeting being held tomorrow, Tuesday, March 9.

In a wider report on the state of the area’s economy, Flintshire Council’s chief officer for the economy, Andrew Farrow, said: “Due to its economic profile Flintshire is particularly vulnerable to the trade impacts highlighted.

“Grant Thornton estimate that the Flintshire and Wrexham economic area could lose £300m annually in trade.

“This excludes consequential effects upon supply chain companies as the impact of lost trade income “ripples” through them.

“A disproportionate proportion on Flintshire businesses are not owned locally, making them more vulnerable to disinvestment decisions made elsewhere.

“There are a higher proportion of Flintshire residents with low skill levels compared to the Wales average.

“Typically, those with the lowest skills are most at risk of redundancy and longer term unemployment.”

A Brexit exposure report focused on Wrexham shows the area is also considered to be at risk because of the high proportion of people who are unemployed.

Grant Thornton highlighted that the county borough has above average levels of people working in the manufacturing and wholesale industries, both of which are identified as being at risk from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company added that the region as a whole was predicted to suffer a “very large” impact on exports.

Providing advice on steps which Wrexham Council should take to mitigate the risk, it said: “Given the high proportions of employment in manufacturing and wholesale in Wrexham relative to the rest of Wales, the council should seek to understand the exposure of local businesses within the local economy.

“Particular focus should be given to businesses in those sectors most impacted by COVID-19 where the management focus will have been on survival rather than preparations for the EU transition.

“The economic consequences arising from trade fluctuations could impact household and business stability further.

“This, in turn, may lead indirectly to increased pressure on local public services and more challenging prospects for local growth.”

A report on the impact of Brexit was expected to be brought before a Wrexham Council scrutiny committee last month, but the meeting was cancelled.

The issue is now expected to be discussed at the committee’s next scheduled meeting later this month.

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