On 23 June 2016 the European Union was shaken by what may be described as a political earthquake. The potential loss of the EU’s second-largest net contributor and the world’s fifth largest economy is a thunderous wake-up call.
The UK is Germany’s third largest export market accounting for 7.5% of all exports and 11.6% of its car exports. In 2015 bilateral trade yielded a surplus of EUR 51 billion in favour of Germany. Germany still remains the UK’s second largest export market.
It is not just trade that is at stake. There are 3,000 German subsidiaries with 400,000 employees in the UK, and conversely the British have more than 2,500 in Germany and 250,000 staff.
What changes Brexit may trigger cannot be determined at this early stage. British companies may consider establishing or expanding their presence in continental Europe and thereby remain within the EU. Likewise German companies, fearing loss of trade, may react similarly and open new or additional offices in the UK.
Even if the rules do change, the UK and Europe will continue to do business. Whether the UK maintains free access to the single market or trade barriers are applied, one thing is certain: the voice of commerce shall prevail over that of politics.