Brexit: time running out for answers to firms’ real-world questions, says BCC
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), of which Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is a part, has today (3 July) published the two-dozen top real-world questions being asked on Brexit by businesses across the UK – and says the government has managed to make limited progress on just 2 of the 23 issues where clarity is urgently needed so that firms can plan their trade following the UK’s departure from the EU.
In the aftermath of June’s European Council summit – with little progress made in narrowing the gap between the two sides – and ahead of Cabinet deliberations later this week on the UK’s negotiating stance, the BCC warns that continued uncertainty on firms’ day-to-day P&L questions is causing a significant slowdown in business investment.
The leading business organisation is calling on the UK government to draw a line under internal political debate and deliver urgent clarity on the practical, detailed issues that underpin trade – or face a continued deterioration in investment intentions and confidence as the clock ticks down to the October deadline to complete the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement.
As negotiations progress, Chambers of Commerce will be assessing progress against these questions. To date, businesses have had some assurances on the status of EU nationals in the UK workforce and on the industrial standards regime – hence the ‘amber’ ratings for these two issues. All others remain red, including:
On Tax, whether a business will need to pay VAT on goods at point of import, and will services firms need to be registered in every EU Members State
where it has clients
On Tariffs, what Rules of Origin firms will have to comply with to receive preferential tariff rates
On Customs, whether goods will be subject to new procedures, and delayed at border checkpoints
On Regulation, whether checks on goods conducted in the UK will be recognised by the EU
On Mobility, whether businesses will be able to transfer staff between the EU and the UK using the same processes as currently
On R&D projects, whether UK businesses will be able to participate in EU projects after 2020
BCC warns that time is of the essence – with many firms making contingency plans or considering investment alternatives.
John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, said “the predominance of red across the BCC’s scoresheet must act as an alarm call for the Government to immediately start dealing with the realities of Brexit for our members and the wider Suffolk business community.
“We – and the whole of the Chamber network will be suing these 23 criteria to hold the government to account from now on.”
The full list of 23 priorities is available FROM the Brexit resources section of Suffolk Chamber’s website: https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk/representing-you/brexit-resources/