Confusion still over trade with 3rd countries

The Withdrawal Agreement provides for business-as-usual trading arrangements between the UK and the EU during the transition period until the end of 2020. Businesses should not experience rule changes, require new licences, or face new trade frictions in this time. However, much could change thereafter and businesses will need information in a timely fashion and help so they can make the necessary preparations.

Business know that UK-EU market access arrangements will change and the details will be set out in the new trade agreement.

The British Chambers of Commerce have said that: “At the moment, all businesses have is official guidance that relates to no-deal outcomes; some that relates to the transition period, but nothing concrete for 2021 and compliance changes that flow from a new UK-EU relationship that hasn’t been agreed yet. Firms need clarity of information and guidance with plenty of time for implementation.”

However trade with third countries with whom the UK traded under EU agreements may be affected. The UK requires the consent of those countries to continue ‘business-as-usual’ trade. The UK and EU are both committed, via the Withdrawal Agreement, to working with those countries to ensure this. But businesses still do not have a complete picture about how these trade agreements will apply after Jan 31st. Firms need this information gap to be closed before Brexit.

Even if business-as-usual arrangements are agreed across the board – it is still possible that officials at third-country ports are unclear about the correct documentation for goods heading to and from the UK.