Are the British Asian business and professional community rejecting Brexit?
BY Itrat Bashir
Members of the British Asian business and professional community have come forward to strongly oppose Brexit and are in favour of remaining the European Union, as they feel that Brexit would spell an economic disaster for the UK and London could risk losing its status of global financial capital.
They totally reject the argument that immigrants have become a burden on the British taxpayers; in fact they see them as a source motivated manpower and a big contributor to the British economy.
A prominent British Asian business-man Dr Rami Ranger CBE firmly believes that the UK’s strength lies in the Union. He feels those who support Brexit have a very narrow outlook and suspect that they are only worried about immigration.
“In fact, bearing in mind the ageing population and declining birth rate in the UK, without migrants the British economy would not grow. The prosperity we are witnessing today is the direct result of immigrants. They work more for less and keep Britain competitive,” he said.
According to him, the European Union gives the UK access to a market of over 500 million affluent people; since we are a trading nation and need to trade with the world for survival. Whatever makes trading easier is good for the UK.
Mihir Kapadia, CEO of Sun Global Investments, strongly advocated for staying in the Union. He believed that the absence of the EU would make it very difficult for the UK to maintain its political and economic relevance in the world.
“Economically the world has moved away from single country to larger single market and with a population of about 60 million, the UK may not hold as much leverage against larger trading partners, such as USA, China and India. The UK is the gateway for companies from former colonies; in absence of its EU membership, companies will be forced to move to mainland Europe,” he added
He also felt that a Brexit scenario is an untested idea whose unintended consequences have not been understood; it will add further uncertainty in an already shaky environment. “In order to stop the abuse of the benefits system, which is one of the biggest concerns, we actually need to address that rather than blame immigration or EU membership,” he added.
A British-Asian female entrepreneur and multi award-winning founder of Nosh Detox, Geeta Sidhu-Robb saw benefits for women while remaining in the Union.
“I strongly believe that women are beneficiaries of our EU membership. In the last few decades the union has helped to foster greater parity between men and women in the UK through equal treatment legislation, measures for the advancement of women and systematic gender mainstreaming ensuring that a gendered perspective is incorporated into all other policies.”
On the economic front, she felt that EU membership has made London a central hub for international organisations wishing to spread across EU borders. “Suppliers, employees and technology are regularly sourced offshore from UK businesses, with thanks to the EU for making this transfer simpler. In the face of a Brexit, however, business owners could see their operations and subsequent finances falter almost instantly,” she added.
“As a small business owner myself, I believe without a doubt that a Brexit could do more harm than good. A large proportion of SME owners rely on external financing to fund their business, often turning to banks, government bodies and EU initiatives for aid,” she added.
Geeta rejected the immigration argument by saying that the Brexit campaign has completely discounted how beneficial migration is to the UK. “Migrants contribute over £25 billion to the UK economy making them an absolutely indispensable part of the business community. Immigrants are paying on average 64 percent more in taxes than they have received in benefits,” she added.
Paresh Davdra, CEO of RationalFX, was all yes for the EU membership. He observed that for global organisations, Brexit has the potential to overturn distribution channels, which have been cemented over some time. “In the event of a Brexit, UK-based international businesses may be faced with the decision to move overseas in the hopes of maintaining the streamlined processes already in place,” he added.
According to him, passporting is a fundamental concern for many global financial services companies in the run-up to the referendum, as the EU currently licenses firms in member countries to work across European borders. Thus, businesses could eventually be forced to seek passports into European countries from elsewhere in order to maintain their European Economic Area (EEA) client base. The relocation of financial services companies could, as a result, add to the pressure felt by the UK economy in the short term.
Sarosh Zaiwalla, migration, sanctions and arbitration expert, believes in the Union for a simple reason that that multiculturalism in business helps to foster an environment of acceptance for diversity and tolerance and promotes inter-cultural learning.
“A mix of different cultures and languages within the workplace stimulates a different approach to problem-solving, encourages ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ and brings about new and innovative solutions,” he added
He also observed that Brexit could damage global conflict resolution. He pointed out that whilst UN sanctions would not be affected there are many sanctions the EU enacts in the absence of the UN, which are unanimously supported by members states. “The UK has been the central player in the initiations of these sanctions in recent years, using them against countries such as Russia, Syria, North Korea and Iran,” he added.
He believed that if Brexit went ahead both the EU and the UK’s ability to enforce sanctions would be severely limited.
Rajesh Agrawal, Chairman of XendPay and business Advisor to the London Mayor, said if the UK were to leave the EU, the free movement of goods and capital that have been so crucial to the success of the Tech and Fintech industries would be put at unnecessary risk. “The capital has carefully created a nurturing environment and become an international centre for Fintech firms of all shapes and sizes, who see London as a gateway to the 500 million customers over the channel; it would be senseless to cut ourselves off from these,” he added.
According to him, a Brexit will endanger the currently booming payments industry. There is ‘passporting’ of EU rules, which allow a payments company authorised in the UK to conduct business across the EU, which will no longer be possible if Brexit occurs. Hence, payment and money transfer companies will no longer be able to provide services in the EU unless they get a separate EU license via an office abroad, effectively driving down London’s appeal to Fintech companies worldwide.
On the migration issue, he said that ‘The UK Dream’ is currently what a lot of migrants are pursuing, migrants like him. “Educated, ambitious individuals have chosen the UK to set up careers and businesses, and in doing so have added many billions of pounds to the UK economy,” he added.
“It is unlikely that migrants will still view the UK as an attractive destination for setting up businesses if Brexit occurs, and it will negatively affect the UK’s relationship with migrants, and in turn negatively impact the UK economy.”
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