A new survey by the BCC’s Insights Unit of 733 businesses (97% SMEs) shows the difficulties facing British firms in using the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) have not eased.
The BCC report also highlights a fresh set of challenges approaching as UK and EU regulations diverge, creating further headaches for traders on both sides of the Channel.
The TCA was agreed on Christmas Eve in 2020 to allow tariff-free trade with the EU once Brexit took effect.
The BCC has sent the Government its report examining the main issues the TCA is causing for firms with possible solutions to many of the problems.
The survey found that 35% of firms buying and selling services faced difficulties due to the Brexit deal, while a lack of recognition for professional qualifications was exercising 27% of firms. It also found that:
- Almost two thirds (60%) of firms trading with the EU say it is now more difficult to do so than it was a year ago.
- Almost half (49%) of exporters disagree the Brexit deal is helping them grow sales.
- Two fifths (41%) of firms exporting under the Brexit deal say they face difficulties adapting to its rules on buying and selling goods.
And awareness of upcoming changes in trade rules and regulations being made by either the UK or the EU was alarmingly low, with 80% or more of firms knowing no details of the legislation.
This includes knowledge of the Electronic Trade Documents Act, Export Health Certificate requirements, new labelling requirements, the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, new checks on food imports, safety and security requirements for EU imports, UKCA and CE marking, and new EU VAT laws.
TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT THREE YEARS ON
The third year of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) has seen several significant milestones that have changed some of the dynamics of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU.
These include the introduction and phased implementation of the Windsor Framework, a welcome thawing of UK-EU relations thereafter, and the UK re-joining the Horizon Europe research and scientific co-operation programme, as well as Copernicus.
The BCC report also highlights a fresh set of challenges approaching as UK and EU regulations diverge, creating further headaches for traders on both sides of the Channel. The report sets out 26 recommendations to improve UK-EU trade.
Its top five proposals for quick action are:
- Create a supplementary deal with the EU which either eliminates or reduces the complexity of exporting food for SMEs.
- Work with the EU to develop simpler guidance on the Brexit deal so that it is applied consistently across all member countries.
- Develop new arrangements on changes to regulations to minimise disruption to businesses and raise awareness of any fresh impacts.
- Establish a supplementary deal, like Norway’s, that exempts smaller firms from the requirement to have a fiscal representative for VAT in the EU.
- Make side deals with the EU, and member states, to allow UK firms to travel for longer and work in Europe, and provide mutual recognition of professional qualifications.