Welsh business taskforce call over Brexit

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Image caption The chambers of commerce want to build on the experience from within the business community

Business leaders in Wales have called for a taskforce to deal with the implications of the referendum result.

"It would be a fundamental forward step for Wales," said South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce president Liz Maher.

Meanwhile, a business confidence plan and a £5m jobs and growth fund have been announced by First Minister Carwyn Jones, as a response to Brexit.

He hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Council for Economic Renewal.

It brought together business leaders, the TUC and senior politicians to discuss the impact of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

It was set-up in response to the financial crisis and meets around three times a year.

This was thought to be its first extraordinary meeting.

Prime Minister Theresa May has already met with Mr Jones and says Wales and the other devolved nations will have a role to play in negotiations.

The first minister said the Welsh Government wanted to assure businesses and inward investors that Wales remains open for business.

"The EU referendum result has created uncertainty and instability which can damage business confidence and have a longer-term impact on jobs and investment," he said.

Mr Jones is allocating £5m to the new Growth and Prosperity Fund to ensure the economy continued to grow and Wales continued to be an attractive destination for investment.

"These actions will support Welsh businesses looking to grow and increase the number and scale of Welsh-based companies that are exporting," he said.

"We will also be engaging with businesses about how we can support them and promoting Wales with potential inward investors."

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Media captionLiz Maher said business is 'speaking as one voice'

Ms Maher said EU funding and the labour skills gap, which would influence future immigration policy, were some of the issues which needed answering in Wales.

"There's such a long way to go but there are opportunities there," said Ms Maher.

She said as well as stability for the economy there needed to be action and the taskforce would bring together the "huge amount of experience" and specialist knowledge from business.

The business confidence plan - outlined by Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates - includes discussing what support Finance Wales could bring and also bringing forward a plan for export support.

The Welsh Government is also planning an all-age apprenticeship programme and a campaign to support tourist businesses.

Details on how to apply to the Growth and Prosperity Fund will be available shortly.

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies called for a "spirit of conciliation".

He said: "Today's calls for a taskforce to deal with Brexit are sensible, but the first minister needs to reach out to people from both sides of the referendum campaign.

"Brexit presents Wales with significant opportunities and poses questions that could be best answered by a diverse range of voices - not just a chorus of politicians who opposed leaving the EU."

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