The UK remains a top location to do business despite repercussions of implementing a departure from the European Union threatening to harm business. However, the UK's brand has taken a knock from the uncertainty.
WPP’s first ever Brand UK surveyed 21,000 global business leaders and citizens to gauge attitudes towards the UK in light of a majority of voters choosing to leave the European Union in 2016.
Global business leaders ranked the UK as the second best country in the world for second year. Nonetheless, 60% of UK respondents felt like a citizen of their country rather than of the world. This sat well above the global average of 48%. 65% said they have benefited from their country’s membership in organisations like the EU and World Trade Organisation, well above the global average of 55%.
The UK remains the fourth most important trade partner to the EU, ranking under Canada, Switzerland and Sweden. The United States also ranks the UK highly, again just behind Canada and Switzerland. China valued trade with itself above the UK.
Somewhat tellingly, only 51% of Brits felt the country is heading in the right direction. Also the perception of the UK as open for business dropped to 20th globally from 19th in 2017. Furthermore, Europeans see London as less accessible than it was in 2017. Europeans also considerably saw the UK as a less inviting place to live, likely connecting to their citizenship status in light of the Brexit.
David Roth, who heads the Best Countries reports for WPP, said: "The findings of the UK Best Countries report paint a mixed picture for ‘Brand UK’, which remains relevant and well-regarded, but has also clearly felt the impact of Brexit. Although Britain has a strong image globally in several areas including entrepreneurship, cultural influence and power, it will need to be vigilant about its brand appeal on the world stage as Brexit further influences internal and external dynamics."
In the best countries list, Switzerland and Canada hold the top two spots, they also did so last year. The UK, which was third in 2017, has been overtaken by Germany.
In the advertising sector at least, the Advertising Association revealed that ad jobs have remained steady despite the EU membership uncertainty.