LONDON (Reuters) – More than seven out of 10 British exporters have found no benefit from the trade deal that Britain agreed with the European Union after Brexit, the British Chambers of Commerce said on Thursday.
New trade rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2021, 11 months after Britain formally left the EU after almost 50 years of membership. British trade with the EU does not face tariffs, but there is extra paperwork for customs declarations and many services exports are restricted.
Out of more than 1,000 businesses surveyed within the past month – which mostly had 250 staff or fewer – just 12% of exporters agreed that the new arrangements had helped them increase sales, while 71% disagreed.
“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,” the BCC’s head of trade policy, William Bain, said.
Britain’s official data shows that after a slump in exports to the EU in January 2021 when there were widespread delays at ports, exports are back around their previous level, while imports from the EU are some way below.
Many economists say this is still a poor outcome, as global demand has boomed over the past year, with British exporters losing market share, and the overall reduction in trade with the EU will hamper Britain’s productivity in the long term.
The BCC said key areas where it wanted changes included export health certificates for British-produced food, value-added tax registration for smaller online retailers and upcoming restrictions on electrical safety certification for imports.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Kim Coghill)