Austen Shakespeare

BCC calls for improved trade with Europe on the second anniversary of Brexit

On the second anniversary of Brexit the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is calling for urgent action to improve trade with Europe.

This follows reports of lorries stacked up on the A20, waiting to get into the port of Dover. With over half of UK exporters (60 per cent) surveyed by the BCC in November 2021 reporting difficulties in trading with the EU, an increase from 49 per cent in January 2021, the BCC states “clear urgent action is needed.”

The BCC is advocating for a supplementary deal to either eliminate or greatly reduce the complexity of exporting food for SMEs. In addition, the BCC is calling for the government to make side deals with the EU and member states to boost access for business and work travel this area as a priority for 2022.

The chamber also claims firms are far from convinced about a ban on CE marked goods in Great Britain and is requesting the government reconsider.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said: “One of the issues at Dover currently appears to be linked to the export of food products across the Channel. Like many of the problems this looks to be down to a differing interpretation of how the trade arrangements work after leaving the EU.

“In this case we are hearing French customs require a wet signature on paperwork for exports of animal and plant products, but as much of the documentation is produced digitally this is creating hold-ups.

“It is the latest in a string of issues with the trade deal that speaks to the wider problems of interpretation, inconsistent application and glaring gaps in its coverage.

William continued: “No-one is expecting goods to flow as freely across the channel now as they did prior to Brexit. But the way the trade agreement is being interpreted in 27 different EU countries is a major headache for UK business – especially smaller firms without the cash reserves to set up new EU based arrangements.

“Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible for the UK Government and EU to take a pragmatic approach and work together to reach new understandings on a consistent interpretation of the rules and to build on them further.

“Accredited Chambers of Commerce support the UK Government’s ambition to massively increase the number of firms exporting. Freeing up the flow of goods and services into the EU, our largest and nearest overseas market, will go a long way to realising that goal.”

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