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East Midlands Chamber News

Firms ‘hung out to dry’ over no-deal Brexit


Companies are being “hung out to dry” over the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, according to the region’s leading business representation organisation.


With fewer than 50 days until 29 March, when the UK is due to leave the EU, East Midlands Chamber* says there are 20 key questions that remain unresolved.


They include how to move skilled staff between the UK and EU, which rules to follow and what trade deals will be in place, it says.


The British Chambers of Commerce has challenged the Government over the questions. The Government has said it is focused on getting approval for its Brexit deal.


Prime Minister Theresa May is currently seeking changes to her Brexit deal with the EU after it was rejected last month.


She needs to get a deal approved by Parliament by 29 March to avoid a no-deal Brexit.


In the event that no deal is agreed, in countries where the UK had no formal trade agreement both would have to trade under the rules overseen by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).


Under this system, every WTO member is free to negotiate its own tariffs - or taxes - on different goods. But under the rules, members have to offer the same tariff to every other WTO country.


The UK has signed continuity agreements with Switzerland, Chile, The Faroe Islands and Eastern and Southern Africa. As a result, free trade agreements currently in place between the EU and those countries will apply to the UK after Brexit.


Mutual recognition agreements - where a product lawfully sold in one country can be sold in another - have been signed with Australia and New Zealand.


The Chamber, which represents over 4,000 regional businesses, says its members – along with members of other Chambers around the country - are hugely concerned that the UK is not prepared for all eventualities.


And it warned that the lack of clarity over what will happen had already stifled investment and growth.


"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," said Chamber Chief Executive Scott Knowles.


He said firms remained in the dark over crucial issues including contracts and customs tariffs.


"Businesses need answers they can base decisions on, no matter what the eventual outcome," he added.


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*East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)
Notes to Editors
1. East Midlands Chamber is providing useful information about Brexit on its website at https://www.emc-dnl.co.uk/helping-you-influence/brexit3/brexit-support2/
2. The 20 questions firms want answered are:
  1. What tariffs will my company need to pay when importing goods to the UK from the EU and rest of the world and when will the UK Government launch an official market access database to provide this information?
  2. If any trade agreements with third countries are operational on the day after Brexit, with what rules of origin will I need to comply?
  3. Will I still be able to fly people and/or goods between the UK and the EU after Brexit day – or could travel be disrupted?
  4. I know I will need to register for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. How simple will it be for me to register for any other new registration requirements or processes?
  5. How will my lead times be impacted by new customs procedures?
  6. Will any of the agreements be rolled over or replaced on a bilateral basis in the event of no deal?
  7. Will I be able to use any trade preferences with any markets?
  8. Will there be confirmation that I will be able to continue importing tariff free goods from developing and least developed countries under the generalised system of preferences (GSP) programme after 29th March 2019?
  9. Will there be new safety and security requirements and inspections at the UK-EU border that my company will need to deal with?
  10. Where will inspections be held?
  11. What system will I be using to input customs data - will HMRC’s new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) be ready in time for 29 March 2019?
  12. What procedures will my company face trading between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?
  13. Will this be different to operating at any other UK border?
  14. Will staff spending longer than 90 out of 180 days in the EU be subject to further administration, costs or visas?
  15. Will my business be able to move skilled staff members between the UK and the EU after 29 March and if so, under what conditions?
  16. Which regulator will be overseeing my business after 29 March 2019 and what rules do I need to follow?
  17. Is the Government going to charge businesses for the creation of new regulatory agencies in the UK?
  18. If my company is in dispute with another in the EU, what form of resolution and means of redress will be available to my business after 29 March 2019?
  19. Will my business have to pay mobile roaming charges in the EU after 29 March 2019?
  20. Will my business continue to be able to hold and transfer data and personal information without any interruptions after 29 March 2019?
3. East Midlands Chamber won the Chamber of the Year Award at the British
Chambers of Commerce Awards in November 2018.