It seems that the political situation in the United Kingdom changes by the hour following the late-June referendum sending the U.K. out of the European Union. Despite trade between the U.S. and U.K. accounting for .5 percent of the former’s economic output, the interconnected nature of global markets and long cultural and historical ties between the two nations means that the impact will ripple across the Atlantic.
Naturally, global stocks markets have been bruised by the uncertainty, but closer to home, Oklahoma firms will also face challenges in the coming months as a result of the Brexit.
Exporters with customers inside the EU face challenges with the rising dollar, the increased value of which compared to the British pound, makes U.S. goods more expensive in Europe. The unclear regulatory environment, specifically for American firms with manufacturing operations inside the U.K. whose products are shipped to EU markets, may result in these firms facing higher costs in terms of items clearing customs and increased tariffs.
On the opposite side of the coin, for Oklahoma firms importing items from international producers, the influx of cheaper goods has the potential to benefit consumers here at home.
While President Obama’s pre-Brexit prediction that the U.K. would go to the back of the line if it left the EU in terms of a free trade agreement with the U.S., Speaker of the House Paul Ryan broached the possibility of the island nation joining NAFTA on June 28. Though no announcement of such a prospect emerged from the NAFTA leadership summit being held in Canada the following day, the addition of the U.K. would impact American businesses.
The combination of anemic domestic hiring numbers in the past two months combined with uncertainty in global markets may result in the U.S. Federal Reserve delaying its interest rate increase plan. According to Bloomberg, “Fed Chair Janet Yellen had been saying that an increase could be appropriate “in coming months,” but that language has been conspicuously absent from her speeches following a weak May jobs report.”
For Oklahoma’s small businesses and entrepreneurs though, the Fed’s delay could provide a short-term benefit. As noted in Forbes, “small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs still benefit from low interest rates, relatively loose purse strings, and the efficiency of borrowing thanks to financial technology advances.”
For the time being, Oklahoma firms have an excellent resource for all of their questions through OKGIT partner Karen Bell, British Honorary Consul in Houston, whose diplomatic jurisdiction include Texas, , Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.