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Brexit checklist warns of inevitable red tape for exports and imports

Brexit - a trading impasse looms
Brexit - a trading impasse looms

Quietly, relentlessly, the UK appears to be being shepherded into crashing out of the European Union with no trading deal in place at the end of the year.

While the consequences of this process are still being largely successfully shielded from the general public, the business community can’t afford to postpone the crucial decisions which need to be made - and whether there is a deal or not, these will still include tariffs, taxes and licenses, says Access to Export.

The Linton-based advisory company has prepared a Brexit International Trade Preparation Checklist for the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce - and the terrible waste of time that Brexit has involved is laid bare in all its gory detail.

Even with a good deal in the EU-UK negotiations, Access to Export warns UK businesses will be paying tariffs to export and import goods both at the ‘send’ stage and the ‘receive’ stage from January 1.

“Every company’s situation will be different,” says Access to Export managing director Chris Willers, “so we have used our wealth of hands-on worldwide international trade experience to put together this comprehensive international trade checklist.

“The checklist includes a series of questions that every trader should ask themselves. Each trader needs to be able to answer each question to ensure they are properly prepared for trade with the EU from January 1 onwards.”

Access to Export was founded in 1999 and has an office in Linton and another in Southampton. The report took two weeks to compile, says managing director Chris Willers.

“The Brexit International Trade Preparation Checklist summarises and crystallises a lot of the information being published by the government.”

The report confirms that every single order will require contract-specific negotiations between the buyer and seller including on freight, insurance, customs export declarations, customs clearance responsibilities, payment and licenses.

Brexit endgame is in sight
Brexit endgame is in sight

The facts include:

- Goods will be subject to customs procedures

- Exports will be subject to duty and taxes at destination

- Import/export documentation will be required

- Import VAT will be payable

- Import tariffs may apply if there is no trade deal

“From an international trading viewpoint it all depends on the outcome of trade negotiations between the EU and the UK government,” says Chris. “The UK government is trying to achieve a free trade agreement so goods can move as they did – which means no incoming taxes – but goods will still have to go through customs.”

Are there any benefits to trading with the EU without being in the EU?

“From an international trading perspective there aren’t really any trading advantages to Brexit,” says Chris. “We might manage to maintain the status quo in terms of having no import or export taxes, but what there will be is that goods entering or leaving the UK will have to go through a customs process where they don’t at the moment.”

“Everyone is worried about a second wave at the moment,” says Chambers chief executive John Bridge, “but that might not be Covid-19, it might be Brexit.

“Brexit is stark reality. People are beginning to understand what it means in terms of documentation. It’s not just the UK – there are businesses in France and Germany who are as concerned if no more so about interruptions.”

John Bridge OBE, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce
John Bridge OBE, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce

Meanwhile the furlough scheme will cease at the end of October, and John Bridge OBE, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, says it has already proved its value.

“It’s been really good,” he says. “HMRC set the scheme up quickly and the payments have been really prompt. It hasn’t saved every job but it’s saved a lot of jobs.”

On August 1, the government ceased paying 80 per cent of salary: it now pays 80 per cent of salary minus National Insurance and pension (a cut of around five per cent).

From September 1, the furlough drops off to 70 per cent of salary, with employers expected to make up the extra 10 per cent or more to qualify.

After October 1, the government pays 60 per cent of salary, also on condition that the employer tops that up to 80 per cent.

“There’s a lot of people falling between stools and not getting any financial support,” notes John.

The next Chambers meeting is on August 27, with the Minister for Employment, Mims Davies, as the special guest. Job challenges stemming from the pandemic and leaving the EU will be discussed. The minister will provide updates on government employment support initiatives, including Kickstart.

Registration details here.

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