A survey has found that half (49 per cent) of exporters are facing difficulties in adapting to the changes in the trade of goods following Brexit.
Results from the first major business survey for 2021 by the British Chambers of Commerce on the ratification of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 1 January 2021, found that, overall, around a third of respondents (30 per cent) reported difficulties adapting to changes to moving or trading goods in the first month of the year, while 10 per cent said they had found adapting to the changes easy.
Of those polled, 45 per cent said trade in goods was not applicable to their business, and 16 per cent said it was too early to say.
However, the percentage facing difficulties in adapting to changes in trading goods rose for exporters, where half (49 per cent) reported issues, as well as manufacturers, where the percentage facing difficulties was more than half (51 per cent).
Some exporters – 16 per cent – and 19 per cent of manufacturers reported ease in adapting to changes to trading goods.
Fieldwork for the survey, which received 1,000 responses, mainly from SMEs, was carried out between 18 and 31 January 2021. Nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents exported goods or services.
The survey sought to understand the extent to which businesses found it easy or difficult to adapt to changes in trading goods and/or services and moving people in the month since the ratification of the TCA. Businesses reported the highest proportion of difficulties in adapting to changes in trading goods.
Atul Bhakta, CEO of delivery firm One World Express, said: “The British Chamber of Commerce’s findings come as no surprise. Given the last-minute nature of the trade deal between the UK and the EU, many companies were caught off-guard by the heavy administrative burdens, due to additional paperwork and many more delays relating to custom checks. Consequently, 44 per cent of UK businesses are planning to cease trading with EU businesses, according to One World Express's own research.
“However, exporters must not panic. Instead, they should take practical steps to understand how they can adapt to a post-Brexit world. Dedicating resources to reviewing Brexit trade rules and seeking advice from logistical consultants would be a strong starting point for many firms. Now could also be an opportune moment to explore new trading opportunities emerging in other international markets. India, for example, is experiencing an e-commerce boom, presenting a strong online opportunity for UK exporters.
“We are certainly in for some difficult months ahead as both UK and EU businesses adapt to new trading conditions. However, businesses needn't dampen their trading ambitions. Rather, they must thoroughly research new processes, explore opportunities, and seek consultancy where possible. Doing so will certainly help businesses to thrive in the post-Brexit world."