Retailers and exporters have continued to experience issues with the UK’s EU trade deal since it was arranged in 2020, with a new report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) further highlighting the “host of issues” that have impacted different industries.
Research by the organisation, which covered over 1,000 businesses, has led the BCC to call for “urgent steps” to be taken in order to increase the number of firms that can successfully export.
A mere eight percent of businesses participating in the report agreed that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) was actually “enabling their business to grow or increase sales”, with 71 percent of exporters believing the TCA was not helping them at all.
A total of 320 businesses cited disadvantages when it came to the agreement, noting an increase in costs for both the company and clients. They also highlighted that smaller businesses were not being able to spare time and money to deal with the bureaucracy and the move had put off EU customers from considering UK goods due to perceived costs and complexities.
In comparison, 59 respondents believed there were advantages to the TCA, with few stating it allowed them to continue trading without significant changes and further encouraged them to look to other global markets.
Smaller businesses feeling the burn
Ultimately, the research pointed out that it was mostly smaller businesses that were bearing the brunt of the agreement, with many not having the time, funds or employee power to deal with the changes in EU trade.
In a statement, the head of the trade policy at the BCC, William Bain, suggested that a new approach to the rules could be the first step to working on the difficulties presented. He added: “Accredited Chambers of Commerce support the UK Government’s ambition to massively increase the number of firms exporting. If we can free up the flow of goods and services into the EU, our largest overseas market, it will go a long way to realising that goal.”
In conclusion, the BCC suggested five key issues, complete with solutions, that it believed could improve EU trade. Issues covered everything from costly health certificates, which mostly impact food exporters, to certain electrical products that will soon not be permitted for sale in the UK.
It also noted that some companies are being asked to register in multiple EU states for VAT in order to complete online sales. The BCC suggested a supplementary deal that would exempt small firms from certain requirements that could avoid duplicate costs. The same was said for import customs declarations, for which the BCC believes that recovering businesses should not have to face import payment demands.