Businesses across the region have been warned that time is running out before the EU transition ends and urged to “get ready now”.
With under a month to go until the end of the transition period on 31 December, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership is calling on businesses to spend time checking what actions they need to take.
Chair C-J Green said: “We know this is an incredibly challenging time for businesses and they are busy trying to respond to Covid-19, but it’s important they take a little time to prepare for 1 January and find out what they need to do.
“It’s not just large firms, or those which export or import, which will be affected. Anyone who moves goods through the EU, relies on materials coming from the EU as part of their supply chain, works with customers overseas or travels for work will be affected.
“There is support available. You can get help from New Anglia Growth Hub’s business advisers or find sector toolkits, preparation checklists and details of webinars and training tools on the New Anglia LEP website www.newanglia.co.uk/eu-exit/.
“I would recommend all business owners take a little time to look through the guidance and get ready now.”
Key actions which the Government is urging businesses to take include:
- If you sell goods to the EU, you must prepare for new customs procedures.
- If you travel to the EU for work purposes, you will need to check if you need a visa or work permit and apply if necessary.
- If you employ overseas nationals, you will need to prepare your business for the implementation of the new immigration system.
- If you are a UK business or organisation that receives personal data from contacts in the EEA, you may need to take extra steps to ensure the data can continue to flow legally at the end of the transition period.
- If you provide services in the EU, you must ensure your qualifications are now recognised by EU regulations to be able to practice or service clients in the EU.
More than 55% of companies in Suffolk already import and export to and from the EU and global markets. Over 80% of these are micro or small businesses employing up to 50 people.
However, research conducted in the region suggests many business owners are ill-prepared for the changes fast appearing on the horizon. Trade Business Advisers in Suffolk sent out a survey towards the end of October which found that 53% of businesses have prepared as much they can for the end of transition, with 19% admitting they are not ready at all.
In a poll of around 50 import and export businesses in the region conducted by MHA Larking Gowen, just 8% said they were fully prepared while 37% answered they were more than half prepared.
New Anglia LEP is sending regular reminders to businesses and promoting free webinars which explain what they need to do before 1 January 2021. It also publishing the latest guidance from Government via www.newanglia.co.uk/eu-exit/ and working closely with partners to ensure there is plenty of support.
Advisers are using this detailed information to provide businesses with answers on the new immigration system from January 2021; and for businesses that are importing and/or exporting, guidance on customs declarations, tariff rates, product markings and trade agreements.
International trade is a major contributor to the Norfolk and Suffolk economy, a fact highlighted in a report about the implications of Brexit for Norfolk and Suffolk produced for the LEP earlier this year.
In 2015, £2.89bn of goods and services were exported internationally – 56% of which were traded with countries within the EU. For Norfolk and Suffolk, seven of the top 10 countries by export value are members of the European Union.
The Netherlands is Norfolk and Suffolk’s largest market, with exports totalling £392m in 2015; this represents 24% of the value of trade with the EU, and 14% of the total value of trade. All the region’s top five sectors by export value fall under Manufacturing or Agriculture, areas which will be impacted by the transition.
The LEP website has information on how the changes affect: borders, movement, and travel; people and employees; specific sectors; exporting and importing, and SMEs.
A webinar which will look at ‘Navigating Customs formalities and ensuring HMRC compliance’ takes place on Wednesday 16 December and businesses can click here to register.
Businesses can visit www.gov.uk/transition, or the LEP website, or download this master checklist www.newanglia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Transition-Period-Master-Checklist.pdf