With the pressure from port operators and businesses, the government decided to delay the implementation of full Brexit border checks by another six months. The extension was greeted with relief by those behind on schedule with the preparations of the designated inland customs border check posts, as well as businesses reliant on imports from the EU. But it leaves British exporters in a disadvantageous position as the EU has had the full border checks in place since the 1st of January.
Helping businesses recover
According to Lord David Frost, the UK minister in charge of the implementation of Brexit, this move would help UK businesses recover after a year of battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are confident that this new timetable will allow import businesses to re-establish their trading arrangements after a difficult period due to coronavirus,” he added.
The decision to push the full border checks by another six months means the final deadline is now January 1st 2022. This is already the second time the UK government has changed its mind on the final date for these full border checks to be implemented – just nine months ago, the ministers U-turned and announced they had decided to extend the initial deadline of January 1st 2021 to July 1st 2021.
Delay in full Brexit border checks raises eyebrows in Brussels but is welcomed by British businesses
An EU diplomat criticised these frequent changes and announcements regarding the implementation of full border checks saying, “It confirms the trend of taking back control by not taking control,”.
While Brussels is raising eyebrows and “continue to fully protect the integrity of the single market and the customs union, as well as its financial interests”, British businesses see the next delay as a huge relief. Many believe the decision will help to ease the flow of goods and streamline processes that are still tricky for them to handle.
Trade bodies from a broad spectrum of industries said the additional time must be used to address fundamental structural issues thrown up by the EU-UK Brexit trade agreement.
The extension needs to be used wisely
The director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce said that this ‘temporary solution’ should not distract from the need to improve on the border issues that were an “existential” threat to some businesses.
“The UK and the EU must get back around the table and thrash out the remaining structural problems” in the Brexit deal, he added.
The Institute of Directors carried out a survey on 900 directors and found that 20% of businesses that traded with the EU had stopped doing so in January.
At the same time, UK hauliers and exporters warned that the longer it takes the UK to implement the full Brexit border checks, the longer the EU businesses enjoy a competitive edge.
Similarly, there are concerns over weakening the UK’s negotiating leverage when attempting to get Brussels to reduce burdens on UK exporters. The senior policy adviser at the National Pig Association, Charlie Dewhirst pointed out that while British farmers are having to absorb costly EU border bureaucracy, their European competitors are able to send their produce to the UK without the extra hassle and costs.
What does this mean for your business?
You still have time to prepare. Using the extra time to prepare your business for the full Brexit border checks is going to be the key to your future success. Now is the right time to educate and train yourself and your team. At UKCS, we have a full team of experts ready to help you make your trading business Brexit-ready. Get in touch with us today!