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On Thursday 13 September, more than 220 participants attended the NBCC Brexit Forum event: “The final Brexit countdown. The time to prepare is now!”.

The objective of this event was to increase the level of preparedness of Dutch member companies. The large turnout of business shows that Brexit remains a hot topic. The impact of Brexit is real and the clock is ticking. Anton Valk CBE, Chairman NBCC, encouraged companies to step up their level of Brexit preparedness since currently only 1 out of 5 of the Dutch companies actively prepares for Brexit.

During the event, experts shared useful insights on how already now to prepare for Brexit. Her Excellency Mrs Mona Keijzer, shared her vision on Brexit and highlighted the importance to anticipate rainy days. Furthermore, she highlighted the 'Brexit Buddy' initiative, in which large companies help smaller companies with their Brexit questions on trade with third countries, as part of their preparation for Brexit. Finally, the State Secretary also inspired the audience by saying that a changing trade climate will bring new opportunities. Rotterdam has claimed it wants to be the best-prepared port on the continent. The Netherlands, as the UK's nearest neighbour across the pond, can be its prime gateway to Europe.

After this call to action, Tim de Wit, Correspondent UK & Ireland for Nieuwsuur & NOS, discussed the current state of affairs in British politics. He emphasized the current difficult political position of Prime Minister May. Rem Korteweg from The Clingendael Institute, shared the latest state of play from EU perspective.

James Knightley, Chief International Economist from ING, showed that the level of exports from the Netherlands to the UK suggests the negative effects from Brexit are already materialising.

Roel van ‘t Veld, Brexit Coordinator Customs, made clear that once the UK is no longer a part of the European Internal Market and Customs Union (either 30/3/19 or 1/1/2021), the free movement of goods will end. As of that moment there will be reinstatement of customs formalities and supervision on goods movement between UK & EU including levy of customs duties. Roel encouraged companies to start preparing for these certainties now.

Subsequently, the new MKB-Nederland Chairman Jacco Vonhof offered concrete tools to make preparations happen, based on best practices.

The Expert Session included Mark van Dijk - Port of Rotterdam, Leon Kanters – KPMG Meijburg & Co, James Knightley – ING, Marlous van der Zande - van Wouwe – PwC and Nick Heath – Deputy British Ambassador to the Netherlands.

The Expert Session provided many new insights and practical advice from the esteemed experts from different perspectives, specializations and scale, and gave inspiration for the stakeholders' Brexit preparation.

Mark Dijk from NBCC Premier Member Port of Rotterdam, explained the actions they have taken so far and shared insights in their planned dry run in November 2018. Marlous from PwC f.ex. explained that a crucial “no regret”- action from an HR perspective is to identify all the employees affected in order to plan ahead and start communication and support them. She made clear that companies should already clean up their current data and make sure they know where the issues might occur after the Brexit.

The drinks reception proved to be the perfect setting for an informal exchange of knowledge, ideas and inspiration. This NBCC Brexit Forum event was organized by the Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) in partnership with PwC and led by Jan-Willem Velthuijsen, Senior Economist at PwC - strategic partner of the NBCC Brexit Forum.