There has been so much going on with COVID 19 that we have forgotten that we have left the EU and that the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year. So where do we stand now with Brexit? Many businesses have not started making any plans for Brexit and the main reason cited was uncertainty. Businesses wanted more information before they start to plan and make decisions, but the clock is now ticking. From 1 January 2021 you will need to make customs declarations to move goods into and out of the EU. If a business is exporting into the Republic of any other EU country they should get an EORI number if they have not already done so and then decide how they want to make customs declarations and whether they need to get someone to deal with customs for them.
One true guarantee is that Brexit will absolutely impact upon every business in the Mid Ulster area. Goods, services, people and money cross back and forth over the Republic’s border every day. Our shopping trolleys are filled with goods that originate from EU countries. We are told that if there is no agreement then the WTO agreement comes into force and there will be tariff barriers imposed just like current trading between non-EU countries. Tariffs are custom taxes that Governments levy on imported goods. The tax can be unit based and/or a percentage of the cost of the product. In effect they raise the price of the imported product.
The good thing is that we in mid Ulster are resilient. The smart entrepreneur will now be exploring what the consequence will be to their business. A reassuring fact is that if WTO tariffs are imposed more than 80% of products traded across the border will have a WTO tariff of less than 10%. However, if you are in the agri-food production sector the tariffs will be a lot higher.
There is also the potential of technical barriers imposed such as labelling, quality standards and pre-shipment inspections. Products may have to have certificates of origin issued by the NI Chamber of Commerce and there is cost for each certificate.
Post Brexit, goods being brought into the UK may be subject to more customs, and associated costs of documentation, customs deposits and possible delays. Some of us are not too old to remember the delays at the customs at Aughnacloy.
We are scheduled to depart the EU on 31 December 2020 and the politicians will do what they do to negotiate an agreement. My advice to Dungannon businesses is to start exploring the potential impact to your business now. The website www.gov.uk/transition is a good start for information. Also, the Intertrade Ireland website has a free Brexit planning toolkit and advice and support vouchers of up to £2000 for businesses. We are in unprecedented economic times and the challenge is to think differently and quickly.