Business West to help Swindon firms cut through confusion as end of UK’s Brexit transition looms

October 25, 2020

Swindon firms are being urged to prepare now for the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1 next year, despite many questions of how it will work in practice remaining unanswered.

The government has launched a campaign for businesses with the strapline ‘Time is running out’ as talks with the EU over a trade deal alternate between being bogged down and breaking down. 

With just over 70 days to go – and regardless of the state of those discussions - the government wants businesses to get ready for what ministers are calling an ‘Australia-style’ exit from the EU on December 31 – a term which many observers claim is the same as a ‘no deal’.

Business West, the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, says despite the many unanswered questions – and the fact that this is happening in the midst of a devastating pandemic – firms must be aware of the fundamental changes it will usher in and be prepared for those that affect them.

Among the issues still to be resolved, according to Business West, are whether preferential trade agreements will continue and which rules of origin will apply after the transition.

But what is known is that from 1 January, businesses will also need a customs declaration even when trading with the EU.

Business West will be delivering training for companies to highlight what firms need to know to complete them correctly.

Companies can also register their interest for the ChamberCustoms service, which will take the hassle away from importers and exporters and ensure that customs clearance is accurate, timely and avoids costs through delays or errors. 

Businesses will also need an EORI number that starts with GB to move goods to or from the UK. Most businesses should have now received this, but if they haven’t they should head to the HMRC website for more information.

They will need to consider whether they need to register for VAT for the countries they want to trade with and be aware of how other legislation may change.

Business West can give information on the types of documents available, how they are used and where to get them, but companies must check what they need with their importing agent or customer.

Business West will be issuing regular updates to companies as the discussions continue. By signing up to its Trading Through Brexit hub, companies can expect to stay up to date on developments.

Business West director of commercial services James Monk, pictured, said: “Businesses in the South West and beyond are facing a myriad of challenges including the threat of a second wave of coronavirus and a lack of clarity about the rules which will apply at the end of the transition period.

“It is not surprising in these extraordinary circumstances that businesses are struggling to prepare.

“While firms will be stepping up preparations, many are still facing unanswered questions that are making it hard to plan sufficiently for the end of the transition period.

“A deal between the UK and EU would give companies more security and clarity over the changes in the coming months and this is still possible, but no matter what happens, we will support firms to negotiate the changes coming at the start of next year.”

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