Are Brexit negotiations in the home stretch yet?

As the extended Brexit deal negotiations in London come to an end and are set to continue in Brussels from Thursday 29th October, Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, claims there is potential for a trade deal to be struck in the next two weeks. He warns, however, deal or no deal, we should all be ready for major trade disruptions. Other sources claim leaders in Brussels are still unsure whether an agreement with Boris Johnson can be achieved in the next two weeks. 

The infrastructure is not ready for Brexit

With the deadline for a constructive deal now being the middle of November, more and more UK businesses find themselves worried about potential transport problems. Michael Gove is to meet with the UK retailers to discuss these issues after those responsible for the development of the new post-Brexit freight software say it is unlikely to be ready for January 1st. The Association of Freight Software Suppliers (AFSS) backed its members saying the cooperation from the government has been insufficient and that the government has failed to provide clear direction for the project.  

Stubborn UK approach criticised by CBI director

The Brexit deal negotiations are entering the final stretch and the outside commentary is expected to be kept to a minimum by both parties. This so-called “submarine” phase is entered in the final part of negotiations to keep it away from the media and the domestic political stakeholders. This leaves the UK businesses in an uncertain situation and in eager anticipation of the final outcome of the negotiations. 

What the UK and the EU are still not in agreement about, are the issues pertaining to the level of access to the British waters, that is to be granted to foreign fishing fleets, and the fair competition rules that are to exist in the post-Brexit world, including guidelines on domestic subsidies and dispute resolution. The next two weeks will be tough for the negotiators as the UK claims it is not prepared to back down on fisheries.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of CBI, UK’s leading employers’ organisation has criticised the stubborn approach the UK government is taking in this last part of the negotiations. “It [departure from the EU] has had a momentum of its own. It has been almost a perfect storm. The economy has gone into suspended animation while we resolve this seismic issue. I hope we can have a resolution so we can move on”, says Fairbairn. In her opinion, the UK businesses’ preparations for trade post-Brexit have been halted by the pandemic, and it would be far more beneficial for the government to back down on some of the remaining issues and come to an agreement with the EU so that we can prepare for the turbulent period after 31st December. 

Full steam ahead on contingency planning 

Jaguar Land Rover Plc is planning ahead for both scenarios. With a committee that keeps up to date with the government’s efforts to secure a deal without tariffs, and continuous talks with their partners to plan for a no-deal end to 2020, Jaguar Land Rover wants to be ready for any outcome. They are preparing for heightened customs declarations and delay in processes, even if the UK leaves the single market and customs union without a deal. 

Similarly, Gibraltar, the British overseas territory, where 95% of the population voted to Remain, had attempted to prepare a last-minute bilateral Brexit deal with Spain to offset the disruptive effects of Brexit at the end of the year. According to a Spanish source, the attempt was unsatisfactory, as the overseas territory faced “a lack of political will” in London.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

The truth is, we don’t know what we need to plan for. But getting yourself ready so that you can easily shift gears to whatever the outcome of the negotiations is, is going to put you ahead of the game. 

At UKCS we have been preparing for a while and are ready to support all of our clients, whatever the outcome is. Our experts have prepared a Brexit Pack for you to download and are ready to help further whenever you are ready.