Learn English from “Brexit” News: 15 Key English Words You Need to Understand International Trade

June 23, 2016.

That was the historic day Britain voted to leave the European Union (the EU).

Brexit, a name that’s short for Britain’s exit from the EU, sent shockwaves around the world!

News about Brexit has been in international headlines every day since then.

Have you been following the news stories so far?

Are you interested in what happens next?

Do you want to know how your company and other businesses will be affected by Brexit?

I, too, have been following Brexit developments closely. Today I want to share with you 15 key English words from sample sentences I’ve selected from some of the articles I’ve read.

I think you’ll find this list useful as it contains words commonly used in international business, and you’ll notice them over and over again when people are talking about Brexit and other news stories out there.

Why Learn Business English Vocabulary About International Trade Topics?

1. To Stay Current with Global Business News

In this fast-changing world of business, you need to stay current with happenings in the global market, industry news in your field of work as well as new product trends. Learning the language of international trade will help you better understand all of this information.

To keep current, subscribing to a major newspaper that covers business news internationally is a great first step. Subscribing to The New York Times, for example, will make it easy for you to glance over the latest business news every day. You can also set daily reading goals for yourself, such as reading one article closely and looking up any words you don’t know.

Watching news programs is another great way to stay up to date. Plus, watching the news will improve your English listening skills!

As we explore the vocabulary below, we’ll look at examples from other major publications you can consider following. Some publications, like Entrepreneur, are available at discounted rates from Magazine Line. If you’re in the U.S., this is a great site for finding subscriptions for publications that cover business and finance at low prices.

2. To Communicate Fluently with Global Business Partners

These days, everyone’s talking about Brexit. I’m sure that lately you’ve noticed many of your coworkers, clients or international contacts at meetings or seminars are bringing up the topic of Brexit.

If you’ve been following all those Brexit news stories out there, good for you! Knowing the language of international business will definitely put you at an advantage and help you speak more fluently and sound more confident when discussing this topic and others.

3. To Grow with the Global Career Market

Many companies today have offices and business connections all over the world. Maybe you work for one such company. If so, business travel won’t be new to you. You may also have noticed the many career opportunities that are now available overseas.

If you see yourself in the market for a new and exciting career in another country in the near future, you should aim to be proficient in (good at) the vocabulary used to talk about international business.

15 Key English Words for Talking About International Trade

1. Economic Outlook

We often use the word outlook to talk about our expectation of what the future might look like. For instance, when the weatherman gives us the weather outlook, he’s telling us what kind of weather to expect in the coming week.

Likewise, the term economic outlook tells us how the economy is expected to perform over a period of time in the future.

Sample sentence:

The Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said the economic outlook following the UK’s vote to leave the EU is “challenging.”

“Mark Carney’s post-Brexit economy warning” from BBC News

2. Consumer Spending

We all buy goods and services for our personal and household use. That makes us all consumers. So then, consumer spending refers to the purchase of goods and services by consumers like us.

Sample sentence:

U.S. consumer spending rose for a second straight month in May on increased demand for automobiles and other goods, but there are fears Britain’s vote to leave the European Union could hurt confidence and prompt households to cut back on consumption.

—Lucia Mutikani in “U.S. consumer spending rises, Brexit casts shadow on outlook” from Reuters

3. Free Trade

Think of free trade as countries doing business freely with each other without the restrictions of import and export taxes.

Sample sentence:

If the British people vote to leave, the EU could become more protectionist and less open to free trade.

—Guy Bentley in “How Brexit Would Impact The US: What The Experts Say” from The Daily Caller

4. Restricted Trade

Restricted trade is the opposite of free trade. In restricted trade, countries are taxed on the goods and services moving across their borders.

Sample sentence:

Britain hasn’t left the EU yet, but we could see an exodus of American companies from London to Paris, Berlin or other potential European tech hubs before it does in order to preempt issues of restricted trade.

—Michael Hicks in “How Brexit will impact the US tech industry” from Tech Radar

5. Manufacturers

Manufacturers are companies that make large quantities (numbers) of goods for sale. Hershey’s, for instance, is one of the biggest food manufacturers in the United States. Can you tell that I’m thinking about chocolate?

The noun manufacturer comes from the verb to manufacture.

Sample sentence:

And manufacturers that were starting to stabilize after a prolonged slump face a new potential setback.

—Paul Davidson in “‘Brexit’ fall-out: Winners and losers” from USA Today

6. Distribution

Distribution is the action of sending a supply of goods to companies that sell them to consumers. The noun distribution comes from the verb to distribute. It may be used both as a noun or an adjective as in the sample below,

Sample sentence:

If they have a good proportion of sales on the continent, they may move their distribution centers.

—Paul Page, Robbie Whelan and Laura Stevens in “Logistics Executives Say Brexit Will Rattle European Supply Chains” from The Wall Street Journal

7. Retailers

Retailers are companies that sell goods in small quantities directly to consumers like us. Macy’s, for instance, is a huge retail store in the United States. Have you ever shopped there for clothes and bags?

The noun retailer comes from the verb to retail.

Sample sentence:

British retailers and restaurateurs are already bracing for higher costs after the government moved to raise the minimum wage in stages through to 2020.

—Saabira Chaudhuri in “‘Brexit’ Threatens U.K. Restaurants, Retailers With Higher Labor Costs” from The Wall Street Journal

8. Startups

The Silicon Valley in California is well-known for their many technology startup companies. A startup can generally be described as a new business venture that’s expected to grow very quickly.

Sample sentence:

For the many Silicon Valley tech startups that have branched out to London, this represents a major problem.

—Michael Hicks in “How Brexit will impact the US tech industry” from Tech Radar

9. Currency Unpredictability

In international trade, countries often have to deal with profit and loss caused by rising and falling exchange rates. Currency unpredictability happens when the exchange rates fluctuate (move up and down continuously) due to certain market situations.

Sample sentence:

As long as the uncertainty remains, cash flow issues and currency unpredictability will persist, consumer spending on tech goods will continue to drop, and tech workers will be left in a state of limbo.

—Michael Hicks in “How Brexit will impact the US tech industry” from Tech Radar

10. Entrepreneurs

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re someone who operates (runs) and manages a business.

Sample sentence:

Viewed through the lens of American entrepreneurs and small-business owners, Brexit may seem far away, but with an increasingly globalized world, the ripple effects from across the pond will undoubtedly have an impact here at home.

—Brett F. Ewing in “Brexit: The Risks and Opportunities for American Entrepreneurs” from Entrepreneur

11. Win-win

You’ve heard of winning and losing. But what if everyone’s a winner and nobody loses? That’s what we call a win-win. It’s a situation where all the parties involved benefit from doing something.

Sample sentence:

In some way, that might be a win-win outcome: supporters of the Brexit vote would have made their protest loud and clear, whereas the rest of Britain — and the rest of the world — would be saved the disastrous economic consequences of a costly divorce.

—Luis Cabral in “Why Brexit’s ‘disastrous economic consequences’ could be on hold” from CNBC

12. Market Turbulence

When we talk about market turbulence, we are referring to a market situation that’s unsteady (shaky) and hard to predict. No one is sure if prices will rise and fall. Businesses have to try their best to prepare for whatever happens.

Sample sentence:

The market turbulence generated by the referendum is already prompting some businesses to rethink hiring and investment plans.

—Paul Davidson in “‘Brexit’ fall-out: Winners and losers” from USA Today

13. Plan B

Plan B is basically what you do if Plan A fails. It’s the alternative (other) plan you would follow if your original plan is unsuccessful.

Sample sentence:

There is no Plan B. That is what many companies across Europe have been telling investors since Britain voted to leave the European Union. The exit and its timing are so uncertain, executives say, that few companies had any meaningful contingency plans to either defend against the fallout or take advantage of the opportunity.

—Robert Wall in “Brexit Vote Rattles Companies Across Europe” from The Wall Street Journal

14. Real Estate

Real estate simply refers to a piece of property that’s made up of land and buildings.

Sample sentence:

Brexit may prompt wealthy foreigners to sell U.K. real estate, spurring demand for U.S. properties.

—Paul Davidson in “‘Brexit’ fall-out: Winners and losers” from USA Today

15. Foreign Investment

If your company decides to invest in (put money into) a company based in another country, that’s referred to as making a foreign investment.

Sample sentence:

But homebuyers may be dealt a favorable drop in mortgage rates, while U.S. business and property owners welcome a possible fresh stream of foreign investment diverted from the U.K.

—Paul Davidson in “‘Brexit’ fall-out: Winners and losers” from USA Today


So, there you have it, the list of 15 words and sample sentences for talking about Brexit.

Master this vocabulary list and I promise you’ll be fluent and confident whenever international comes up in your next business communication.

And One More Thing...

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