Sunday, June 26

Brexit: Trade Survey Finds 74% of UK Businesses Affected by Delays in EU Markets | Commercial policy

Three-quarters of British manufacturers are struggling to cope with delays in the movement of goods in and out of the EU amid continued disruption caused by Brexit and the Covid pandemic, industry figures said.

Two months after the UK left the EU on trade terms agreed by the Boris Johnson government, an investigation by the manufacturing trade group Make UK has shown that 74% of companies in a survey of more than 200 industrial companies leaders face delays in imports and exports from the EU. .

In the face of mounting Brexit bureaucracy, customs controls and global trade disruption caused by the pandemic, more than half of businesses said they were experiencing rising costs. More than a third had lost sales, while fears of continued disruption were causing companies to lose business in the future.

The warning comes as pressure mounts on the government to resolve difficulties at the UK’s borders amid concerns about the impact on the UK economy and jobs at a time when businesses are grappling with the UK recession. Covid.

A government spokesman insisted that cargo volumes between the UK and the EU were now “back to normal levels” and said “there was no general disruption to UK ports”.

Ministers have made £ 20 million available to help small businesses adjust to new business relationships. “We will ensure that companies get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe and seize new opportunities as we achieve trade deals with the world’s fastest growing markets,” the spokesperson added.

However, business leaders said business activity was under severe strain and would likely worsen as more border controls came into effect.

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Ray Singh, managing director of Russel Finex, a London-based manufacturer of high-performance sieves and filters, said his company was still experiencing delays with exports to the EU and a plant operating in Belgium.

“Eventually we get the merchandise delivered, but it just takes a lot longer. It is not as smooth as before. There are additional checks and paperwork and it looks like in a few months that is really going to increase, which is more to wait. It has created a lot of additional bureaucracy that did not exist before, ”Singh said.

Catherine Bedford, founder of Dashel, which makes carbon fiber and recycled cycling helmets, said the disruption was killing her business. “Thanks to Brexit, we have gone from being profitable to barely surviving,” he said. “We cannot predict delivery times as the items are held at French customs, our point of entry into Europe. There is a huge backlog and items are being returned despite updated paperwork. “

Figures from Germany this week showed that UK imports had fallen more than 56% to € 1.6bn (£ 1.4bn) in January from the same month a year earlier amid the Brexit halt. Official UK trade figures will be released on Friday.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is pushing to expand trade opportunities outside the EU, and the government is expected next week to set Britain’s post-Brexit trade priorities as part of a delayed foreign policy review. . However, Make UK said ministers urgently need to “get back to the table” with EU leaders to solve problems closer to home.

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The EU accounts for almost half of UK imports and exports, while the government’s own analysis suggests that trade deals outside the EU will not offset the impact of Brexit on the UK economy.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, said: “The government needs to fix the difficulties in UK ports so that shipments can be easily delivered. We are encouraged that the government is already working to train more high-quality customs officials and to provide further assistance with customs paperwork, but this must be pushed forward quickly to provide the fastest possible assistance to British businesses already struggling to re-enter normal as commerce recovers from Covid pandemic. “

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