Brexit: Businesses will be ‘hung out to dry’ if government fails to provide clarity over no-deal, experts warn

List of questions comes days after a number of the UK’s biggest food and drink companies threatened to stop cooperating with the government on anything that is not connected to Brexit

Caitlin Morrison
Tuesday 12 February 2019 23:37
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Businesses are at risk of being “hung out to dry” as a result of a no-deal Brexit, with companies still calling out for clarity on key issues just weeks ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU.

A list of 20 of the most burning questions businesses have has been put together by the British Chambers of Commerce, which said that many of the unanswered questions “reflect fundamental aspects of how companies operate”.

The list comes days after a number of the UK’s biggest food and drink companies threatened to stop cooperating with the government on anything that is not connected to Brexit.

It also follows a warning from retailers including Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose that a no-deal Brexit will result in items disappearing from supermarket shelves and could put the UK’s food security at risk.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “In less than 50 days, UK firms could face the biggest change to their terms of trade in over a generation, without the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course.

“There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from government will leave firms, their people and their communities hung out to dry.”

He added: “Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.

“It is little wonder that many firms have been holding back on investment, stockpiling, and even opening offices and moving operations and jobs elsewhere. The imperative remains to avoid a messy and disorderly exit on 29 March, but businesses need answers they can base decisions on, no matter the outcome. The lack of clear, precise answers is now causing real damage to many businesses, and to the wider economy.”

The questions put together by the BCC are as follows:

  • What tariffs will my company need to pay when importing goods to the UK from the EU and rest of the world?

  • When will the UK Government launch an official market access database to provide this information?

  • If any trade agreements with third countries are operational on the day after Brexit, what rules of origin will I need to comply with?

  • Will I still be able to fly people and/or goods between the UK and the EU after Brexit day – or could travel be disrupted?

  • I know I will need to register for an EORI number. How simple will it be for me to register for any other new registration requirements or processes?

  • How will my lead times be impacted by new customs procedures?

  • Will any of the EU-FTA agreements be rolled over or replaced on a bilateral basis in the event of no deal?

  • Will I be able to use any trade preferences with any markets?

  • Will there be confirmation that I will be able to continue importing tariff free goods from developing and least developed countries under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) after 29 March, 2019?

  • Will there be new safety and security requirements and inspections at the UK-EU border that my company will need to deal with? Where will inspections be held?

  • What system will I be using to input customs data – will HMRC’s new Customs Declaration Service be ready in time for 29 March, 2019?

  • What procedures will my company face trading between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?

  • Will this be different to operating at any other UK border?

  • Will staff spending longer than 90 out of 180 days in the EU be subject to further administration, costs or visas?

  • Will my business be able to move skilled staff members between the UK and the EU after 29 March and if so, under what conditions?

  • Will I need to become VAT-registered in every EU Member State where my firm has clients?

  • Which regulator will be overseeing my business after 29 March, 2019, and what rules do I need to follow?

  • Is the UK government going to charge businesses for the creation of new regulatory agencies in the UK?

  • If my company is in dispute with another in the EU, what form of resolution and means of redress will be available to my business after 29 March, 2019?

  • Will my business have to pay roaming charges in the EU after 29 March, 2019?

  • Will my business continue to be able to hold and transfer data and personal information without any interruptions after 29 March, 2019?

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