Post-Brexit: What can UK businesses expect over the next 6-18 months?

Despite some positive signs that things are moving in the right direction for UK-EU trade, in order to keep trade moving smoothly as possible in coming months and years we must be prepared for further controls and restrictions from 1 January 2022

UK trade is on the up!
According to industry experts Logistics UK, it seems that finally, we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel with UK trade on the up!  Recent figures from the ONS are showing an improvement in the volume of goods moved between the UK and the EU, a trend which is expected to continue as many of the factors which have caused friction to trade in recent months including Covid-19 restrictions, stockpiling, and challenges with the implementation of new post-Brexit trade processes, continue to dissipate.

Ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement will protect trade with the EU
Furthermore, the announcement on 28th April that the European Parliament has accepted the terms of the Trade and Customs Agreement (TCA) announced on 24 December 2020, means that businesses on both sides of the Channel now have more certainty. 

According to Sarah Laouadi, European Policy Manager for Logistics UK, “The ratification of the TCA is great news for businesses across the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain,” she says, “and will provide them with greater certainty about how and when goods can move across the UK’s borders.” 

“It will also enable industry, UK, and EU authorities to take part in the agreement’s cooperation bodies to focus on effective implementation of the deal and keep goods and services flowing freely across the UK’s borders.”

What IS the Trade Agreement between the EU and UK?
The UK and the EU have agreed to unprecedented 100% tariff liberalisation. This means there will be no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods we produce between the UK and the EU. This is the first time the EU has agreed to a zero tariff zero quota deal with any trading partner and therefore represents a significant step forward for the UK. 

The Agreement also covers provisions to support trade in Services (including Financial Services and Legal Services), as well as recognising UK sovereignty over our fishing waters. 

Read the full details of the Agreement on the official website.

Further restrictions on imports are expected from 1st January 2022
Despite the agreement of a long-term framework for the trading relationship with the EU, it is also important to remember that there are still changes to come in import conditions. The UK is yet to introduce checks and other requirements on inbound goods, which are expected to be phased in gradually over the next year. According to Sarah Laouadi, Business and government must ensure that all necessary preparations have been made in a timely fashion, to protect the supply chain and prevent unnecessary or avoidable delays at the border or at the destination.

You need to act now and prepare for new rules
Current advice to businesses that import goods from the EU is to familiarise yourself with what will be required in plenty of time. It is important to review your contracts, Incoterms, and processes with suppliers and partners on the other side of the Channel. 

All the preparations that have been made for GB to EU trade ahead of 1 January, in terms of customs formalities, safety, and security declarations, and sanitary and phytosanitary documentation for animals and agri-food products must now be replicated for EU to GB trade. This will ensure the continued smooth movement of goods across the UK’s borders and protect the nation’s trading relationships.

Key milestones and deadlines

1st October 2021 – Requirements on products of animal origin and other high-risk foods will be implemented

1st January 2022 – Option to defer submission of full customs declaration up to six months will be phased out

Safety and Security Declarations for imports, as well as physical checks on products of animal origin (also known as Sanitary and Phytosanitary checks, or SPS) will be required

Temporary easements on border controls end/Introduction of EU-UK border controls 

For a full list of key dates in the UK-EU post-Brexit relationship 2021-2028 visit the Institute for Government website here