Just under three in four British exporters believe the UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal is not helping them increase sales, according to a new survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
The survey found 71 per cent of businesses disagreed with the statement that Boris Johnson’s trade deal was “enabling their business to grow or increase sales”, while the majority of respondents said “it has pushed up costs, increased paperwork and delays, and put the UK at a competitive disadvantage”.
The post-Brexit trade deal ensured British businesses could still sell goods in the EU without any tariffs, however it does require exporters to fill out lengthy paperwork.
The BCC said the main complaints from British firms about the deal were the increased costs of paperwork, the fact that smaller businesses did not have the time or resources to navigate the new red tape and that it had put off some EU customers due to the new regulations.
The business body is calling on the government to broker a deal with the EU to ensure British exporters do not need to acquire export health certificates if they are sending food overseas and to simplify the costs of EU-imposed VAT.
William Bane, head of trade policy for the BCC, said: “Nearly all of the businesses in this research have fewer than 250 employees and these smaller firms are feeling most of the pain of the new burdens in the TCA.
“Many of these companies have neither the time, staff or money to deal with the additional paperwork and rising costs involved with EU trade, nor can they afford to set up a new base in Europe or pay for intermediaries to represent them.”William Bane, head of trade policy for the BCC
Labour shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the “government have been asleep at the wheel and have shown a complete lack of support to help businesses who are seeking help”.
A government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that being outside the single market and the customs union would mean changes and that businesses would need to adapt to new processes. That is why we are ensuring that businesses get the support they need, including through the free-to-use Export Support Service.
“Goods exports to EU nations were 4 per cent higher last year compared with 2020. However, given the Covid-19 pandemic, global recession and supply chain disruption, it is still too early to draw any firm conclusions on the long-term impacts of our new trading relationship with the EU.”