The union of Europe is no longer so united. The 52% votes in favor of “Leave” in the historic referendum in June 2016, leaves the United Kingdom on the front line of some minor relaxations and some major changes. The political and economic upheaval arising out of the disentanglement of Britain from the Union has posed a host of questions on the status and attractiveness of the country in the current times.
In such a state of affairs, the nation is juggling the two precious bottles of complete policy reorientation and covert yet prodigious marketing of the country globally. The terms of Britain’s exit will have to be agreed by 27 national parliaments, a process which could take some years. Britain’s positioning in the Union and the global economy at large, substantially depends on the kind of deal it strikes with the EU. Let us examine each of these bottles, fragment by fragment.
Treating the Policy Paralysis
For implementing the actual exit from the word “Brexit”, Britain needs to invoke an agreement called Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the two sides 2 years to decide upon the terms of the split. The new Prime Minister, Theresa May intends to trigger this process by the end of March 2017, implying that the UK will be expected to have left by the summer of 2019.
A lot is on stake while a two-line Brexit bill is currently making its way through the Parliament. Unpicking 43 years of treaties and agreements covering thousands of different subjects, the post-Brexit trade deal is likely to be the most complex part of the negotiation.
If it remains within the single market, it would mostly retain free movement rights, allowing UK citizens to work in the EU and vice versa. If the government opts to impose work permit restrictions, then other countries could reciprocate. Hence, not just the Britons would have to apply for visas to work, but skilled human resource coming to serve the UK from across the Union and the world will be deterred and dampened. Marketing Moot Point No.1.
In such a period of flux and instability, the new government has demonstrated decisive political leadership. Helmed by PM May and supported by an array of proficient cabinet members like Boris Johnson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Sir Michael Fallon (Defence) and David Davis (Secretary for Exiting the European Union), the reorientation of British Foreign Policy is being conducted in a spirit of cool-headedness and self-confidence. Bold thinking and swift action to transform the setback into an opportunity is what Britain is practicing.
Seeking a door from this deadlock, Britain is weaving a marketing plan for itself by enveloping various fronts like industrialization, multilateral trade, foreign relations and diplomacy, tax policies and exemptions, ease of doing business, tourism, currency stabilization, stock performances, and attracting FDI amongst several others.
Prima facie, Britain lost its top AAA credit rating, meaning the cost of government borrowing will be higher. However, the British economic scenario has shown signs of profitability and prosperity. Stocks have been more resilient post-referendum. The Bank of England cut interest rates from 0.5% to 0.25%, a record low in the central bank’s 322-year history; yet there has not been the economic slump or recession that some economists had predicted.
Britain’s shadow marketing runs with a cornerstone of exhibiting how well the organizations are doing on the British lands. Marketing Moot Point No.2.
Some companies have actually done well after Britain’s decision to leave the bloc. Chief among them are major British newspaper publishers. The Daily Mail & General Trust experienced a sharp rise in traffic and digital advertising. Rising circulations were also reported for the Scottish publisher Johnston Press, which owns “The I” newspaper.
And because of the cheaper pound, which makes exports look comparatively cheap, companies that major business overseas have reported stronger earnings. Scotland’s whiskey sales have risen. The watchmaker Swatch has declared globally that the “Brexit” vote led to a surge in luxury watch sales.
The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has proposed to invest about $355 million in its British manufacturing sites, while the American lender Wells Fargo has decided to buy a new building in London for its headquarters for around $390. Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat has even established its international headquarters in London.
Nissan, the Japanese automaker that is one of Britain’s largest overseas employers, will build a new car at its plant in Sunderland, England, after receiving the reassurance from the PM that the company would be protected from any negative impact of a British departure from the bloc. The British government has approved the expansion of London City Airport. Infrastructure projects have also received the go-ahead.
Luring such healthy influx of capital by providing strong political support and reassurances seems to be Britain’s old and seasoned marketing policy. Marketing Moot Point No.3.
Building “Energetic” Ties:
The French utility company EDF has sanctioned a $23.3 billion project to build a major nuclear power plant in Britain. The site, known as Hinkley Point C, will provide 7 % of Britain’s electricity when functional. France and China are providing most of the financing for this project. Thus, Britain is not at all myopic in enticing foreign investors. It chooses its partners for the long-term. Marketing Moot Point No.4.
T for Theresa, T for Trade
If you happen to visit the official website of the UK Government, a new name has been flashing under the “Departments” tab since July, 2016. “Department of International Trade” (DIT) has been established by the PM with the primary objectives of screening investment, negotiating with investors and providing them with the ease of doing business.
Since Brexit decision, establishing trade with countries outside the EU has been the priority of the British government. The European Union has 34 bilateral and regional trade agreements in place, which cover in total 60 partners. The first issue on hand is to take over the existing deals which EU has with other countries (and hence even Britain had, being a part of EU back then), under grandfather rights. These deals are a useful starting point for the British government.
PM Theresa May has already started talks with respective authorities of several countries to maintain and develop the cordial relations they have in order to take over the existing deals under the ambit of EU. However, the takeover of existing deals depends a lot on the other countries. If they think it is worth continuing the arrangement on existing terms, then the roadblocks in the way of the British government will be eliminated.
In September 2016, Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade had a meeting with Steve Ciobo, the Australian Trade Minister. Soon after the talks, the British government announced the formation of a bilateral Trade Working Group with the purpose of facilitating fast-track free trade negotiations. This working group will meet twice a year, beginning from 2017 for development of trade between the two nations.
Thailand, whose second biggest trading partner is Britain, is eager to draft a FTA with UK to improve collaboration between their private sectors and to facilitate trade and investment growth. Mexico has already drafted a trade pact in advance, to take the opportunity of Brexit and establish deeper trade ties with the UK. This is a good sign for UK as Mexico’s peso is the most traded emerging market currency currently.
So far 27 countries with a combined GDP of more than £40 trillion have declared that they are working out the possibilities to establish trade agreements with UK once the process of Brexit takes into effect. This list includes all the non-European countries among the world’s top 10 economies.
Zooming the lens on India:
PM May chose India for her first overseas trip concentrated on establishing deeper trade ties with India; one of its oldest trading partners. This also marked India as the obligatory “first non-European” halt of Theresa’s premiership. The rising behemoth ‘India’ is Britain’s third largest investor and second biggest trading partner. Bilateral ties in areas like defence, technology, security & investment and the historically neglected small and medium sector enterprises (SME) were the focus of May’s visit. This visit also came at a crucial time when Indian government is planning to take a tough stance on UK’s immigration policy. During her visit, she has signaled she will offer developments to the visa system if India offers help in deporting the thousands of over-stayers in the UK. This further raised the prospect of ‘one in, one out’ policy for the Indian immigrants.
Britain has always been the gateway for Indian companies to enter the European market. The $108 billion Indian IT sector gets about 6-18% of its revenue from Britain. We see how tactfully Britain has established its place on the Indian soils.
The Trump Card
Amidst all the skepticism about Trump’s hold on the oval office, Britain stands as the only country in the world which has identified Trump’s triumph as an opportunity to renegotiate its historic ties. The United Kingdom affirms its relationship with the United States as its “most important bilateral partnership” in the current British foreign policy. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 90% of Americans view the United Kingdom favorably.
Trump’s pro-UK stance can be seen as a great opportunity for the Anglo-American relations. Britain received assurances from the new president regarding his plan to strike a major free trade bilateral deal. With these assurances, PM May is expected to become the first foreign leader to hold talks with the new President in the White House. As per the experts’ view, a new trade deal between the two nations could be established in as little as two years. This comes in after the speculation of UK formally leaving EU by 2019.
Taking a glimpse at the list of Britain’s trade partners hereby, we can gauge that the British government is targeting to sign free trade agreements (FTA) with various countries before the real divorce of Britain and EU occurs later in 2019 tentatively, in order to provide the cushion for post-Brexit effect. Marketing Moot Point No.5.
Exhibiting Resilient Stocks
Share prices have recovered from a dramatic slump in value. Both the FTSE 100 and the broader FTSE 250 index, which includes more British-based businesses, are trading about 13 percent higher than pre-referendum figures. Britain hence has ably rejuvenated its bourses and demonstrated a comparatively more productive market thereby showing the world how they’re capitalizing on their liberation from the Union’s confinement and restrictions. Marketing Moot Point No.6.
Britain was the most important contributor of the Union in matters of Defence, providing almost 15% of the EU defence budget. It was also in-charge of Operation Atalanta for the protection of maritime transports off the coast of the Horn of Africa, and had made its ships available in the Mediterranean. And finally, it was planned that the UK would furnish troops for the constitution of EU combat groups. With Brexit, all these engagements are now null and void.
We see how wisely Britain has created its strategic importance in not just the Union but also in countries across the globe. Hence we can understand that despite the allegations of the European leaders, Brexit does not isolate the Britain, but enables it to turn to the Commonwealth, renegotiate its special relations with the new American government and to create links with China, India and Russia among other countries of the world. Marketing Moot Point No.7.
Mehman Nawaazi: Tourism
The UK has four national tourist boards (Visitbritian, Visitwales, Visitscotland and Northern Ireland Tourist Board) which work in collaboration with respective government departments and government agencies to promote UK and market its tourism.
In the year 2016, Visitbritain launched a campaign dubbed #OMGB (Oh My GREAT Britain). OMGB, as a brand campaign, has been launched in phases and run with the cooperation of additional domestic partners in various countries. The campaign, which is focused on their local markets, has carefully selected ‘moments’ that resonate with the audience to provide a richer experience. OMGB undertakes digital marketing to promote 365 days of Great Britain moments. This campaign was started in China and was subsequently launched in France, USA, Brazil, and Germany to communicate the value proposition through storytelling and raising awareness of myriads of experiences and activities in Britain.
The tourism marketing campaigns of Britain have always revolved around the “best of Britain” vibes and what the country has to offer from a great range of food, culture and heritage to enrich the experience of the tourists. Marketing Moot Point No.8.
Rising Above the Smoke
The time for accusations and post-mortems should now pass. While the British MPs and Lords work out the Brexit bill, the liberal intelligentsias across the globe are debating if it was a vote to recession, or a vote for financial freedom. Uncertainty is in the air of global trade and international relations today, but looking at Britain’s fantastically conceived and underhandedly implemented marketing, certainly the time for pessimism should now pass.
The latest country to join the band wagon of exiting from European Union; one of the largest economies of the world that has survived the European recession to a larger extent; a country whose strategic importance cannot be undermined from the world of geo-politics today; the nation that is all set to take what could be the biggest economic and political change in its history, without a hiccup; the Great Britain has rocked the world with just three fundamental marketing techniques: image building, investment generation and diplomacy. A fourth technique, policy advocacy, is its pillar supporting the three constructs.
To all those who expressed cynicism over Britain’s capability to emerge out strong of this divorce and proudly considered it to be the “eternal truth” calling it “Britain’s dead-end to boom”, Britain likes to speak out loud with its actions, showing them the degree of its current as well as potential political and economic prosperity. In the words of FranklinD.Roosevelt, “eternaltruthswill be neithertruenoreternalunlesstheyhave afreshmeaningforeverynewsocialsituation”.