Research by the British Chambers of Commerce reveals that many importers and exporters aren’t preparing for changes to customs procedures after Brexit.
The survey, based on responses from 835 businesses across the UK that import or export, found that delays at UK or EU ports would lead to considerable business disruption, particularly for those operating a just-in-time model.
29% believe they will be impacted in terms of administration, costs or operations by delays or congestion at UK or European ports.
Yet, with less than a year to go until Brexit, one-in-three businesses affected by the implementation of new customs procedures still aren’t planning for checks and declarations between the UK and EU.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “While a lot remains to be agreed about our future trading relationship with the EU, the Government has made clear its intention to leave the Customs Union.
“Firms need to know what checks and declarations they will have to go through on trade with the EU – and need to start planning for changes.
“Understandably, the lack of certainty over the terms of the final settlement makes it hard to plan with confidence, but businesses shouldn’t be complacent about preparing for new processes under different scenarios.
“While we expect that there will be a transitional period after Brexit next March, the EU’s mantra that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ means this isn’t guaranteed.”
He continued: “The businesses most likely to be impacted by change at the border must start thinking through the consequences for their supply chains, freight forwarding arrangements, software requirements and budgets.
“Leave it too late, and firms could face even greater disruption or cost when the time comes for changes to border arrangements to be implemented.
“The same applies to Government. If there is to be minimal friction between the UK and the EU, then physical infrastructure such as inland clearance, IT systems for quick risk assessments, as well as agreements on no doubling up of checks between the UK and the EU must be implemented as soon as possible.”
Businesses can start preparing for Brexit with the Brexit Toolkit.
An online calculator sets out how duty charges could change.
If you need more help, you can request a full professional Brexit audit, make a post in the Brexit forum or read through a Brexit international trade blog.
The Toolkit has been developed by i2i Infinity, a family-owned software business with a focus on international trade.
It dovetails with services already provided by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce through our Cumbria Business Growth Hub.
We can provide assistance to new and existing exporters, including an export documentation service and certificates of origin, with significant savings for Chamber members.
We can also link exporters to Department for International Trade advisers and to UK Export Finance, the government department that works with companies, banks and overseas buyers to support UK exports through insurance policies, bonds, credit and working capital.
And our Subsidy Scheme could potentially contribute towards the cost of a full Brexit audit for those businesses requiring that level of support.
The scheme enables ERDF-eligible businesses to access a 40% contribution, up to a maximum of £2,000, towards consultancy to support their growth plans.
The Subsidy Scheme is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce