SMEs call for reforms to break ‘shackles’ of EU trade deal after Brexit

Britain’s Brexit trade deal has failed to increase sales or help more than three quarters of companies grow their businesses, according to a new survey by a leading business group.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was finalized on Christmas Eve 2020 to facilitate tariff-free trade with the European Union. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has found that a high proportion of firms still have “major problems” in trying to access the deal.

The business group, whose members employ around six million people in the UK, has sent a report to the government outlining a series of recommendations to increase UK-EU trade.

These include striking a complementary deal with the EU that “eliminates or reduces the complexity of food exports” for SMEs; setting up another complementary deal, similar to that of Norway, which exempts smaller firms from the need to have fiscal representatives for VAT in the EU; and allowing CE-marked goods and components, which are approved for sale in the EU, to continue to be used in the UK after 2024.

The BCC also wants side deals to be struck with the EU and member states to allow employees of UK firms to travel longer and work in Europe, and with the European Commission on the future of the Northern Ireland Protocol. An agreement can be reached soon. year, to stabilize trade relations.

In the survey, 92 per cent of whom were SMEs, 56 per cent said they were facing difficulties in adapting to the new rules for trading in goods.

The Director General of the BCC, Shevaun Haviland, said that “with recession looming, we must lift the shackles holding back our exporters. If we do not do so now, Britain’s long-term competitiveness could be seriously damaged. This is no coincidence is that during the first 15 months of TCA, we stopped selling 42 percent of all the products we used to use.

She said: “The longer the current problems go unchecked, the more EU traders will move elsewhere, and the more damage will be done. There are clearly some structural problems in the TCA, which will not be addressed until they are reviewed in 2026 But there are some issues that do not need to wait for months of negotiations.

Last week’s trade data from the Office for National Statistics showed that total exports of goods fell by 4.7 percent in October, with exports to both EU and non-EU countries declining.

A manufacturer in Dorset told the BBC that Brexit is “the biggest imposition of bureaucracy ever on business. Importing parts simple enough to fix broken machines. The EU has become a time-consuming nightmare for small firms”. , and logistics delays related to Brexit are a major cost when machines are waiting for parts.

Parliamentary committees are examining the trade deal.

MPs on the International Trade Committee are examining whether the terms of trade are likely to change significantly, whether they can be improved and what more the government can do to boost trade flows.

Jeremy Hunt last month ruled out changing the trade deal with the EU, as business groups sought to make it easier to recruit workers from abroad and remove trade barriers.

A government spokesman said: “The TCA is the world’s largest zero-tariff, zero-quota free trade deal. It secures UK market access in key service sectors and opens new opportunities for UK businesses around the world.” Is.

“The UK has provided practical assistance to exporters on the implementation of TCAs.”

Tim Goodall, Managing Director of Small Business www.islabikes.co.uktalking about how Brexit will affect the business’ sales and shipping, as well as its impact on long-term relationships and customer service, saying: “Pre-Brexit, just a quarter (26%) of bike sales to the EU ) of their annual sales, while year-on-year figures for 2022 show they account for just 5% (an 80% drop). Islabikes also said that since the day the UK left the EU , all of its EU orders dried up, sharply increasing export prices for EU customers and the cost of import duties and shipping were now passed on to them.

“The import duty now sits at 14%, a drastic change compared to the reduction of any import duty prior to Brexit, when there was free trade with the EU. At the time a bike cost between £35 and £50 to export, which used to depend on the size of the bike and the country it was going to, but now it usually costs between £100 and £125 on average. Islabikes has to pass on these costs – duties and shipping – to its EU customers. Must pass.


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