How Humber firms can get help preparing for no-deal Brexit

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 28 Feb 2019

Humber businesses will be given emergency advice about what they should be doing to prepare for leaving the European Union without a deal.

The political uncertainty around securing a Brexit deal means that, with less than 30 days left until the March 29 deadline, Humber businesses are being advised to have fall back plans in place if a deal is not finalised in time.

Theresa May was scheduled to give MPs a second vote on her Brexit deal this week but has since pushed that back to March 12 – a date only two-and-a-half weeks from the Brexit cut-off date. If her deal fails, the PM has said she will give MPs a vote on whether to pursue a no-deal Brexit on March 13.

Pauline Wade, director of international trade at the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce. (Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce)

Before that happens, the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce has announced a Brexit workshop where experts will talk businesses through what they must do to prepare for no-deal.

Pauline Wade, director of international trade at the chamber, said the workshop on Tuesday, March 5, at its Hull office in Beverley Road would look at the detail of what was required for those anxious about what Brexit – deal or no deal – could mean for their business.

Ms Wade said: “We don’t know what is going to happen. On March 5, if we are no clearer about where we are then there will be a major emphasis at the workshop on what to do if there is no-deal because we will be getting pretty close to it by then.

“There are already problems in the export and import system and they could be exacerbated by leaving the European Union.

“Any delays to what we call ‘just-in-time’ supply chains could cause a huge problem for assembly lines in Hull.”

Read more: Chamber prepares Brexit support for businesses

The workshop will look in detail at the documents that could be required if there is no-deal, including information on VAT, proof of export, origin of goods, and changes to the “dispatch” and “arrival” process through customs.

One senior businessman in East Yorkshire, who asked not to be named, has told the chamber he fears leaving without a deal could make his food production business“uncompetitive” in Europe.

The UK currently trades with Europe on a free trade basis and without any need for checks on manufactured or consumable goods. But if the UK resorted to trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms after the exit date, tariffs on food products could be as high as 51 per cent on lamb, 30 per cent on dairy and 87 per cent on frozen beef.

A no-deal Brexit could mean exporters from East Yorkshire have to produce extra documents to transport goods to Europe (PA)

The food business in question currently has high-end clients in Europe but the east coast boss is anxious that delays in transporting edible goods into EU countries could see his customers switch suppliers.

“At the moment, we can send produce into Europe immediately as long as it is ready to go,” said the exporter, with more than 15 years experience.

Read more: Boss of expanding Saltend firm on 340 new jobs, the future, and why it's a good thing for Hull

“You don’t need any documents to do that. In a no-deal situation, we could be faced with having to have documentation and have inspections on our food which would slow us down significantly.

“Our competitors are mainly Europe-based and they will be able to do what we have been able to do since we started this business.

Read more: Brexit chaos in Government revealed in MP letters to Hull businessman

“Some people will be prepared to wait for British produce but there will a great many that won’t. Our biggest concern is that, in a worst case scenario, no-deal might curtail our exports into Europe simply because the bureaucratic process is too much of a burden.”

He said he had already been forced to turn down future businesses for after the Brexit deadline because he did not know whether he could fulfil the order, given the political uncertainty in Westminster.

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