When it comes to Brexit, what UK companies say and what they do may be different; what they do is much more reliable as an indicator of flexibility and responsiveness.

We recently held a seminar in Middelburg in the Netherlands, meeting Dutch businesses to discuss how Brexit looks to them and what it means on both sides of the Channel.

Here, we have observed some companies localising – looking for employees in the UK rather than in the EU, using British raw materials wherever possible. But others are doing the opposite; looking beyond the EU for better opportunities elsewhere. Some are taking no action, either because they feel powerless, or because they don’t trade outside the UK anyway.

For those with the capacity, doing business outside the EU is a lucrative option – it needs more support from experts, but gives the greatest scope for growth long-term.

People at the heart of matters

Dutch companies in the meantime should be pouncing on any trade gaps left by retreating UK firms – multinationals that see the UK as losing its cachet as a hub for EU business may accept that Dutch companies can step into the breach.

They can also follow the example of UK companies looking beyond the EU – they have the advantage of an EU treaty with Japan, and could access larger markets. Both Britain and the Netherlands have a long and successful history of engaging with the wider world.

The two countries have plenty of historic and current links and have always traded with each other. The fact that Dutch people speak English so well has helped to develop that affinity, and trading relationships could easily be strengthened to the benefit of all.