Nearly half of UK exporters having Brexit difficulties, survey finds
A major survey by the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed widespread post-Brexit difficulties for UK exporters.
If you’ve read a newspaper any time in the past two months, you probably already know that many companies are struggling to trade with the EU now that the UK has officially left the customs union.
Now, a major post-Brexit survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has laid bare just how many businesses are struggling to navigate the mass of fees and regulations that are now a feature of UK-EU trade.
In this piece, we’ll take a close look at what the survey found, how it was conducted, some of the difficulties UK business have faced, and what the BCC now wants the government to do to help fix things.
What were the main findings of the survey?
Amongst the surveyed businesses, the BCC found that:
- Just under half (49%) of UK exporters have experienced difficulties in the trade or movement of goods since Brexit – saying that adapting to the changes resulting from the EU-UK agreement has either been “relatively difficult” or “very difficult”.
- Among manufacturers, this figure rises slightly to 51%
- For all companies, 30% of respondents have experienced difficulties, however 45% said trade in goods was not applicable to their business
What does the BCC want the government to do?
To help limit disruption for UK businesses and maintain the vital flows of UK-EU trade, the BBC identified four key things that the government should do:
- Work with the BCC and chamber companies to identify the most significant blockages for business and immediately publish plans for resolving those problems
- Create new tax credits so companies could offset their spending on adapting to the new UK-EU trade requirements against their tax bill
- Push back the imposition of additional SPS checks (these are scientific tests on animal and plant goods that are due to come into force from April) and full customs checks (from July) on imports into the UK
- Look at key areas of the new relationship and work with EU partners on easements to minimise unhelpful burdens, including on aspects of Rules of Origin and VAT
Commenting on the survey, BBC Director General Adam Marshall said “for some firms, these concerns are existential, and go well beyond mere ‘teething problems’”.
BCC Director of Trade Facilitation and ChamberCustoms Liam Smyth added that the twin impacts of the pandemic and UK-EU trade changes meant that this was “a difficult moment for exporters”, some of which “will respond to the challenges by switching away from international trade or by moving their operations overseas”.
He finished by insisting that “the government needs to respond to this risk by giving firms tax credits to help with their ongoing adjustment and leaving no stone unturned in educating businesses and removing every barrier they can”.