Welsh SMEs 'must be involved in Brexit'

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The South Wales Chamber of Commerce has questioned why small businesses in Wales have apparently not been invited to help prepare for leaving the European Union.

An advisory group was set up by the first minister following the Brexit vote in order to help Wales get a strong deal in upcoming Brexit negotiations, BBC News reports.

However, president of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce Liz Maher believes it is "bizarre" that the group does not include any representatives of small business bodies, even though SMEs employ nearly two-thirds of the Welsh workforce.

"We're clearly an SME economy," Ms Maher commented.

"That's what's driving the engine of growth in Wales and yet there is absolutely no SME representation."

"Now how can we be taking account of the real, on the ground, concerns if the voice of that key business sector is not there?"

This viewpoint was backed by Russell George, economy spokesman for the Conservatives, who said the Welsh government should hear a range of opinions before deciding its approach.

He insisted that small businesses are "the lifeblood of the Welsh economy".

This, he stated, means it makes "no sense at all to exclude such a significant section of the business community from discussions around Brexit."

Responding to the concerns, a Welsh government spokesman said the advisory group boasts a "wealth of expertise and experience, which will help us shape a positive future for Wales outside of the EU, but firmly within Europe".

However, he stressed that advisory group members are individual experts rather than representatives of organisations.

"The group is just one of the sources of advice and guidance for this government," the spokesman said.