Brexit puts U.K. in uncertain position
The red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England) edged in white is superimposed on the diagonal red cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which itself is superimposed on the diagonal white cross of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland).
Location: An island country off the northwest coast of mainland Europe, the U.K. is comprised of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland.
Total Population: 65.6 million
Government: Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Religion: Almost 60 percent Christian; also Muslim and Hindu
Economy: A leading trade power and financial center, the U.K. is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France, with services, particularly banking, insurance and business services, being key drivers of British GDP growth. The UK’s economy, however, has begun to slow since the referendum vote to leave the European Union in June 2016. Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a new trade relationship with the EU, but economists doubt the U.K. will be able to preserve the benefits of EU membership without the obligations.
News note: Now that she and her team reached a deal on a transitional exit period lasting until the end of 2020, Prime Minister May will start negotiating long-term trade arrangements with the European Union. The opposition Labour Party wants parliament to have the final say on any Brexit deal with the option for further negotiation, while the government is telling parliament it can either accept the exit agreement or leave without a deal.
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.56 trillion
Currency: Pound sterling (conversion rate at press time: 1 GBP equals $1.42 USD).
Franchising in the U.K.: With no specific laws governing franchising, the British Franchise Association operates as the voluntary self-regulatory body for the U.K. franchise sector. More than 7,500 U.S. firms have a presence in the United Kingdom, which is also the top location in Europe for U.S. regional headquarters covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. London, however, is one of the world’s most expensive cities. Best prospects include cybersecurity, education, healthcare and pet products.
Cultural notes: U.K. business customs are similar to those in the U.S., though sustained personal contact with potential business partners is expected. Prompt acknowledgment of correspondence, longer lead time for appointments and a greater formality in conducting business is the norm.
Ease of doing business ranking by World Bank: 7, unchanged from 2017.