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As if Covid wasn’t enough for businesses…

…they’ve now got new trade deals and import/export regulations to deal with, given Brexit is complete.

Diane Hall


Signpost showing Union Jack flag and European union flag

Though many believed coming out of the EU would mean less red tape, to ensure companies are up to date with the various amendments Brexit has brought, it may require lots of form-filling-in and relevant paperwork to be completed, as well as internal policy revisions and operational changes for businesses.

VAT and other tax variations will affect most industries, as will new regulations at our borders related to the movement of goods. Recruiting people from overseas is likely to be different (perhaps more difficult), and if you’re a company that owns trademarks, patents or copyrights, etc., you may wish to ensure these are recognised in the same guise under the new rules.

The short-term pain, many believe, will be worth it for the long-term gain and the ability to form our own rules. Any new rules we create, however, may not suit the countries we trade with; as an island that imports more than it exports, are we really that free to decide our various plans and processes like we’ve been led to believe?

Prior to Christmas, the media showed us the fallout of a block on transportation in and out of the UK. The tailbacks of stranded HGVs went on for miles at Dover. This was a temporary blockage that lasted just a few days, yet panic buying ensued throughout most UK supermarkets as people feared that goods wouldn’t get through to their local shop. The importance of smooth import/export to/from our island was clear to everyone, whichever way they voted in the Brexit referendum.

In fairness, it’s been decades since we had control of our borders, even if this is a fragile concept. Brexit is an opportunity. An opportunity that probably comes with many caveats, but an opportunity all the same. A chance to do things better. A chance to make it fairer for businesses in this country to deal with our neighbours and those further away. A more level playing field.

Any change brings disruption, until everyone knows what’s happening. That point may be weeks away or many months in the future; let’s face it, it’s not as if our hands will be idle with the pandemic to contend with as well. When the referendum was decided, no one knew that Covid-19 would be vying for our attention as we come out of Europe. That’s fate’s fault.

The new ways will soon become ‘the way’ to trade. As the months pass and goods come back and forth into the UK, back and forth, back and forth…we won’t remember what exporting and importing used to look like. If nothing else, the fearmongering from the mainstream media will stop as there will be no more speculation about what will happen when it’s happened already. That’s a bonus if nothing else.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the Brexit deal because a) I don’t know that it’s all been published yet, and b) it would all go over my head if so anyway. I would love to be able to answer the question: ‘Will Brexit be good for my business?’, because God knows, we don’t need anything else to threaten people’s livelihoods and the incomes that underpin their whole lives. All I can say at this point is that the new trade deals and legislation will be different. That may not necessarily be a bad thing in the long run. Only time will tell.

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