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A Week Into Full Brexit, the Pain for U.K. Businesses Has Arrived

A Week Into Full Brexit, the Pain for U.K. Businesses Has Arrived

Britain started 2021 in a new relationship with its biggest trade partner, and it has immediately brought a litany of headaches and lost business.

 

Within a week, implications of the Brexit trade deal with the European Union are being felt by businesses up and down the country as food deliveries are delayed for not having the right customs paperwork, logistics companies halt the shipment of goods, and retailers discover their supply chains might be obsolete.

 

After decades inside the European Union’s customs union and single market, Britain’s businesses have unearthed new challenges and changes every day.The first day of financial trading under the new agreement meant the stock of European companies could no longer be traded on the London-based platforms they have historically been exchanged on. The trades have migrated to trading platforms in cities including Amsterdam and Paris.

 

The governor of the Bank of England, Britain’s central bank, told a parliamentary committee that the Brexit deal would cost the British economy about 2 percent of gross domestic product over the next few years. Part of that expense, said Andrew Bailey, the governor, would be caused by additional paperwork for customs declarations and other expenses of trade — what he called “the grit in the mechanism.”

 

Scottish salmon farmers, who take pride in getting their fillets from sea to French markets within 24 hours, reported delays in their sleek process under the new Brexit terms. The deal’s “new, complex” trading rules had caused holdups as seafood companies struggled with the paperwork, the trade group Scotland Food and Drink said. “We have warned for months about the lack of preparation time for everyone involved and these problems sadly come as little surprise,” said the head of the group.

 

The large European delivery company DPD, which moved more than one billion parcels around the world in 2019, said it would stop sending packages from Britain to the European Union until at least the middle of next week as it tried to figure out new cross-border systems.

 

Many U.K. businesses — at least 150,000, according to data from Britain’s tax agency — have never traded beyond the European Union, and so have no experience dealing with the customs systems.

 

Another new problem faced by large retailers with international locations: “Rules-of-origin requirements,” which determine whether a product leaving Britain is “British enough” to qualify for tariff-free trade with the European Union. International retailers who use sites in Britain as distribution centers are now finding that they can’t automatically re-export their products to their stores in the European Union without facing tariffs — even if the product came from the bloc.

 

“Modern trade and modern regulation does require a level of integration,” especially if a country is not as large as the European Union or the United States, said David Henig, director of the U.K. Trade Policy Project at the European Center for International Political Economy. Smaller countries may find they have to “follow other people’s rules, and that can be uncomfortable.”

 

 

Source: The New York Times

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