Supporting transatlantic trade close to home 

May 1, 2018

Last year’s combination of Newcastle headquartered law firm Bond Dickinson with US firm Womble Carlyle has made it easier for clients to trade internationally, as Peter Snaith, partner at Womble Bond Dickinson, explains

There is enormous scope for most businesses in the North East to expand by breaking into new geographic markets. However, business leaders are understandably cautious about the numerous potential and perceived risks associated with stepping into the unknown.

The results of recent surveys published by the Department of International Trade (DIT) indicate that 73 per cent of businesses who either export or could potentially export feel they don’t have a good level of knowledge about how to export, citing concerns about legal or tax regulation and standards as key barriers.

At Womble Bond Dickinson, we take pride in our ability to do far more than simply deliver the highest quality of legal advice. In recent years, our network and reach has grown significantly, culminating in November last year when we combined with US firm Womble Carlyle, providing our clients with the opportunity to access colleagues in 16 offices across the United States.

Our ability to patch US colleagues into a three-way call at short notice, or to host meetings on the Quayside in Newcastle with US lawyers sitting at the end of the table, albeit via video conference, has enabled local businesses to obtain the guidance they need virtually on their doorstep.

North East businesses have already been working with our US team for answers to the fundamental questions businesses have around doing international business. For example, whether there is a need to set up a local legal entity, which state to incorporate in and how to ensure optimal tax treatment, as well as legal and regulatory treatment for a particular kind of operation.

Now is a good time for businesses looking to set up operations in the United States. In contrast to the state aid regime in the UK and across Europe, many US states offer truly mouth-watering incentives to organisations seeking to set up or grow in their jurisdiction. Our economic development attorneys are helping businesses to maximise the subsidies and tax breaks that are available.

Our region and the South East of the United States have much in common, particularly the potential for economic growth enhanced by access to vital infrastructure and resources in comparatively low cost environments. There are other synergies which we are looking to support, such as bringing together trade associations like the North East Automotive Alliance with counterparts in South Carolina. Through these discussions, which include other stakeholders such as Sunderland City Council, we hope to help forge close links and share best practice. These links will help identify opportunities for local businesses to export products and services into the US, and will also attract inward investment into the region through developments such as the International Advanced Manufacturing Park at Sunderland.

International business is important for the region. In the coming months, we will continue to support and lead further trade missions for local businesses wishing to build networks and enhance their local knowledge of new markets across the Atlantic as well as other jurisdictions. We will also finalise the work we have been doing with the North East LEP and NEECC to build a new network to support local businesses who are looking to export. This network will capitalise on the willingness of the region’s business community to work together and share experiences, both good and not so good. Through all of this, we hope to further enhance our position as one of the few regions in the UK to boast a positive balance of trade.

Womble Bond Dickinson

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