Following feedback from members on the impacts they are experiencing as a direct result of The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the introduction of new customs and border procedures from 1st January, last month UKWA sent out a survey to its membership to assess how widespread some of the problems cited were.

Clearly, ‘free’ trade agreement it is not. SMEs are hardest hit and 80% of respondents from that category confirmed that they have experienced delayed dispatch of orders to the European Union, while 56% reported backlogs of stock as a result.

The largest contributing factors seemed to be a lack of carrier services, with 75% confirming this.

78% said they had experienced delayed intake of orders from the European Union, with 81% citing the unpreparedness of EU traders as the largest contributing factor.

53% reported being affected by ‘double duty’ and Country of Origin rules, while 54% said they had lost business and had seen transfer of warehousing and distribution activity to the European Union.

The Government has repeatedly insisted that these ‘teething problems’ were to be expected and The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP has been robust in defending that position. However, with a long list of new customs checks and sanitary/phytosanitary import controls on the immediate horizon in April and July, combined with the PM’s roadmap lifting trading restrictions, our concern is that matters could become considerably worse as a ‘big bang’ of pent up consumer demand coincides with the increase of bureaucratic red tape at the border.

This concern is shared by our peer industry trade bodies and so, once again, we have joined forces to request a meeting with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Our aim is not to focus on the so-called ‘teething problems’, but to offer continued – indeed, renewed – support in helping the government ensure it is properly prepared for the additional challenges ahead.

UKWA’s message has long been that we are here to help. We – along with our trade association colleagues – are keen to provide direct feedback and evidence from the ‘coal face’ on Brexit impacts to date and, importantly, propose potential solutions that we believe could relieve pressure on Government departments and help address some of the concerns we share relating to the further process changes ahead.

We are looking for a constructive discussion with Michael Gove and others in the Government with influence on the roll out and management of Brexit. We have a clear agenda aimed at working together with the Government to ensure that the forthcoming changes are implemented successfully and with minimum disruption to business and risk to employment.

We believe that continued co-operation between Government and our industry is essential, providing a valuable conduit for the Government to fully understand what is happening on the ground, and for the industry trade and professional bodies to highlight how best we in the private sector can contribute to the delivery of workable and cost-effective solutions that benefit us all.

Peter Ward



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