One year on, Brexit deal gets massive thumbs-down

More than three quarters of small businesses that export to Europe say the EU trade deal has not helped them grow sales

Small businesses overwhelmingly say that the Brexit trade deal has not helped them to increase exports to the EU.

Seventy-one per cent of SMEs that export say the EU trade deal has not enabled them to grow sales.

Just one in eight of all small businesses think the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) has been helpful.

The majority of 1,000 small businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce think the Brexit deal has pushed up costs, increased paperwork and delays, putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage.

>See also: Cut Brexit red tape, BCC tells government

Smaller businesses in particular do not have the time and money to deal with the bureaucracy it has introduced.

Half of the 1,154 businesses surveyed said they exported.

The BCC survey was conducted between mid-January and early February this year, a little over a year since an agreement was struck on Christmas Eve in 2020.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said: “”These smaller firms are feeling most of the pain of the new burdens in the TCA.

“Many of these companies have neither the time, staff or money to deal with the additional paperwork and rising costs involved with EU trade, nor can they afford to set up a new base in Europe or pay for intermediaries to represent them.”

>See also: Calls to extend complex Brexit Support Fund

The BCC is urging the Government to reach a new understanding with Brussels on certain rules so it can fulfil its ambition to massively increase the number of British companies exporting.

“If we can free up the flow of goods and services into the EU, our largest overseas market, it will go a long way to realising that goal,” Bain said.

The organisation is calling for a new deal on export health certificates which “cost too much and take up too much time for smaller food exporters”. It wants the smallest businesses to be exempted from requirements to register in multiple EU states for VAT in order to sell online to customers there. The Government has also been urged to make “side deals” with the EU and members states to boost access for British business travel and work activities.

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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