Lord Frost provides update on Northern Ireland protocol
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The British Chambers of Commerce today warned there was a “gathering storm” in the UK export market which threatened to derail the long-term ambitions for a “truly global Britain.” Meanwhile, The Federation of Small Businesses said one in five small firms who export goods are stopping to sell the EU because of increased red tape and administrative costs.
In a survey of exporters, the UK’s lead trade body also revealed a further one in five is thinking about stopping sales to EU countries.
Shevaun Haviland, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce urged Brexit minister Lord Frost and the EU’s vice president Maros Sefcovic to look at the “issue personally.”
The business chief, who joined the Chamber from the Cabinet Office in March 2021, also said the issue needed to be raised as an urgent priority at the Partnership Council meetings between the two sides.
She added: “Small and medium-sized exporters have found themselves consumed in an avalanche of red tape and blockaded by disruption, to the degree that many have simply been forced to cease selling to EU-based customers altogether.
“That is why we are calling on senior Ministers in the UK Government, as well as EU officials, to step in and urgently examine the issues that are currently plaguing SME [small and medium-sized] exporters.”
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, added: “We urgently need to see policymakers on both sides of the Channel assessing ways to ease the admin burden for small exporters, which are often among our most innovative and profitable firms.”
Exporters started experiencing problems in January with Scottish fishermen first experiencing delays in getting their fresh fish to the markets of mainland Europe.
These fears were reflected in The British Chamber’s Trade Confidence Outlook for Q1 of 2021.
The survey of more than 2,900 UK exporters revealed that the percentage of firms reporting decreased export sales had increased to 41 percent, up from 38 percent in the previous quarter.
The percentage of businesses reporting increased export sales fell to 20 percent, down from 22 percent in Q4 2020.
Some 40 percent reported no change in their export sales.
Ms Haviland added: “Eight months on from the end of the Brexit transition period, issues in our new relationship with our largest and closest trading partner are still causing massive problems for our exporters.
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“We must be absolutely clear here – these are not ‘teething problems’.
“Indeed, exporters are historically the leading innovators and problem solvers of our dynamic UK business community – and what they are telling us is that they are facing problems which they simply cannot solve.”
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, she concluded that “action needed to be taken swiftly”.
Warnings were made ahead of the UK Government introducing reciprocal checking measures on European imports into the UK from October.
The new post-Brexit regulations which were approved by the UK Government will mean companies importing goods into the UK will require Export Health Certificates (EHC) and various additional consignment paperwork.
HMRC data reveals 270 million additional customs declarations are expected to be filled out as a result of the additional checks.
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