The UK has limped through another week of Brexit bolstering. Business leaders there have demanded that Prime Minister May answer 20 crucial questions before the 29th of March. They claim the answers are crucial to prevent a chaotic no-deal Brexit.
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), the business trade body in the UK, has said that without clarity with respect to import and export duties, border controls, and customs procedures, the UK’s government increased the risk of thousands of companies suffering a catastrophic shock when the UK finally exits the EU. The BCC’s Director- General, Adam Marshall, said firms could face the biggest change to their terms of trade in over a generation: “...without the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course”.
The caution from the trade representative body comes just a few weeks after they said thousands of firms were planning to relocate inside the remaining 27 nations in order to avoid potential issues at the border. Businesses are also seeking to maintain and develop relationships with customers and suppliers throughout the EU. With reference to the number of businesses that have openly implemented plans to relocate else-where in the UK, the BCC say it has only been “the tip of the iceberg”. The organization said no deal has gone from being “one of several possible scenarios, to a firm date in the diary”.
Marshall said the risks were mounting every day for businesses: “There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from government will leave firms, their people and their communities hung out to dry.” He continued to say: “Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.”
Separately, the UK’s Institute of Directors (IoD), conducted a poll at the end of last month. The poll found that nearly 33% of British businesses are planning to relocate some of their operations abroad or have already shifted them to cope with a hard Brexit.
Many thousands of small businesses are also struggling to wrap their heads around the ever-increasing uncertainty that looms with Brexit. Mike Cherry, the head of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “By asking for a further two weeks to try and renegotiate a deal with the EU, the government has simply called for further business uncertainty and political paralysis. The government needs to recognize the significant harm this is already doing to our small businesses – put simply, it is making it impossible for them to plan, hire and invest.”
The list of concerns of British businesses, is topped by the need to establish some certainty on pounds and pence implications of extra cost of tariffs on exports and the possibility of the UK charging retaliatory duties on imports into the UK from the EU. In essence, firms want to know when the UK government will make available an official market access database, which will provide information about tariffs and duties imposed by different countries and the EU.
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