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What does Brexit mean for the Upstate?

Posted by: Jason Zacher on Friday, July 1, 2016

Most of the world was surprised – no matter which side you were on – that the British people voted to leave the European Union.

While nobody knows what the long-term implications may be, or even if the British are going to follow through and actually leave, the impact could be significant on the Upstate if the United States has to renegotiate trade deals.

International trade is a vital part of the Upstate economy. Trade accounts for at least 68,000 Upstate jobs and more than $7.6 billion in state exports go to Europe (more than $4 billion of that is from the automotive industry). More than 28 percent of our exports go to EU countries.

The United Kingdom alone is South Carolina's fifth largest trade partner, purchasing more than $2.8 billion in products last year.

What is the United Kingdom’s impact on our economy?

  • Our state has seen capital investments from UK companies totaling over $400 million since 2004,
  • British companies have created more than 2,700 new jobs since 2004,
  • There are more than 107 companies from the United Kingdom in the state, and
  • Those companies employ nearly 11,600 South Carolinians.

If the United Kingdom has to go to the “back of the queue” on trade deals – as the President said in the run-up to the vote last week – it could have a major impact on South Carolina companies and the employees that rely on these companies to pay their mortgage.

And the broader Brexit impact on the EU could impact other European companies such as Michelin and BMW. British companies in South Carolina include GlaxoSmithKline, BP, Britax, GKN Aerospace, and International Hotels Group.

We can’t underestimate the value of international trade and investment here in our own backyard. While the true impact of the Brexit is still very unclear, it’s important to keep that impact in mind as we listen to the political rhetoric and remember the direct effect these policies may have on our neighbors.


Sources: S.C. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce, The State

Jason Zacher is the Greenville Chamber's
Vice President of Business Advocacy and 
Executive Director of the Upstate Chamber Coalition.


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