brexit special Trade challenges

While BDO welcomed the removal of customs duties on goods originating and passing between the UK and the EU, the firm said some red flags remain. “We have warned that it has not changed the position on VAT or altered the need for formal import and export documentation. It also only removes customs duties on goods that originate in the UK or the EU,” said Brookes and Woodhouse.

He added: “While there are risks to some businesses, we have seen that many firms in the region have robust plans in place to cope with these changes, as the transition period came to an end.”

The firm pointed out that more complex supply chains, which involve products (or products containing components) from outside the EU, can still generate a duty cost on goods moving between the UK and the EU. Businesses will also need to be able to prove the place or places where the goods originated.

“There will inevitably need to be some planning around the processes and procedures required to comply with the new rules. However, now that the UK has completed the formalities of leaving the EU, it is hoped that businesses can focus on complying with the rules, while creating business structures and supply chains for the medium and long term,” said Brookes and Woodhouse.

Simon Smith

Getting to grips with the small print of the trade agreement is particularly important for employers looking to attract and retain talented people, as and when they need them. “Now is the time to do some strategic workforce planning, so that you can anticipate potential labour shortages and identify how you’ll plug those gaps. You may also need to go the extra mile to make your company more attractive as an employer in 2021,” recommended Gavin Dent, regional director at Roc Search.

Xtrac recognised that some significant changes will be required from businesses. “As around 50% of our products are exported to the EU, we have been busy working to ensure that we have sufficiently flexible plans in place to address the additional administration necessary for cross-border trade with the EU to continue as seamlessly as possible, together with supporting our EU-citizen UK-employed staff with their applications for the EU Settlement Scheme,” said Lane.

“Having such processes and logistics in place has been essential in reducing the weight of bureaucracy, so that our commercial trading activities remain as unaffected as possible,” he added.

Lane’s advice, particularly for SMEs, is to engage with logistics experts. “To ensure your supply chains remain unblocked and that your personnel are not significantly diverted from running your business.”

The region’s business could take advantage as supply chains are restructured, believes HSBC. “Some may benefit from those bigger firms who are looking to build resilience by diversifying their suppliers,” said Smith.

Free movement Gavin Dent

“With the right planning and support, your business can continue to access the talent it needs, for 2021 and beyond.”

Simon Smith Gavin Dent

Free movement is now a thing of the past, noted Roc Search. “Companies that previously recruited from the EU may have to look elsewhere to meet their needs. Even if you don’t recruit from the EU, you may find yourself having to compete harder for talent, as companies that might ordinarily recruit from further afield turn their attention back to the UK labour pool,” thought Dent.

continued overleaf ..... THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE – JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 19

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