Regardless of the type of Brexit agreed, the withdrawal from the European Union will obviously have a significant impact on those with interests in the EU, and the 60+ countries with whom the EU has negotiated advantageous terms. While the politicians discuss resolving the puzzle, it falls to those businesses involved to check their own position to ensure they are ready to absorb the changes in good time. Brian Dakers (*) is a trade facilitation consultant working with goods importers and exporters to put the pieces of their own trading jigsaw together. He is now working with Brexit Toolkit (it does what it says on the tin, but visit the site for more information> http://www.brexittoolkit.co.uk/) to support UK exporters through the maze of Brexit.
With nearly 20 years’ experience working with world leading companies in the UK and beyond, here Brian provides his five top tips for goods traders.
1- Check your data.
While not as important for trades within the EU, commodity codes are an essential part of trading across borders. Whether the UK leaves with a good deal or a bad one, commodity codes, also known as harmonised system (HS) or tariff codes, are going to be more important. Start a process of checking and where necessary updating. Our site can be used to do this, or you can use the UK trade tariff if you like typing.
2- Analyse your supply chain
What do you buy, when do you need it, and how could you reduce vulnerability to the potential delays Brexit might bring, if you have any? If you’re mainly buying from UK suppliers, are they buying in turn?
3- Keep your friends close
Your customers, whether in Europe or beyond, may well have some uncertainty with regard to the potential fall outs of negotiation. Make sure of communication with them, and share whatever you can. Keep them posted and reassured as to your reliability, and in regard to any potential changes – make sure they’re aware you’re around for the long term. If you visit, do it more often if it’s doable. It’s easier to keep one than to snag another, so make an additional trip, invest the time. You’d appreciate it if roles were reversed.
4- Plan for the worst
If the UK leaves without a deal, we revert to World Trade Organisation obligations. This is where the Brexit Toolkit comes into its own. Duty rates are a part of it, and are relatively easy to ascertain. If it’s 2% on your product, then maybe that’s absorbable. If it’s 20% maybe not so much, but either way you’re better off knowing what the reality would be. Other considerations, such as customs entries (declarations to HMRC that goods are leaving) should be factored, too.
5- Keep your friends close (again)
This time, your friends are the companies who help you do business. Who do you use, and how well do you know them? Logistics providers, Chambers of Commerce, the bank, your accountant. Get them in, or if appropriate take them out! Talk to them, explain your situation as appropriate, and give them opportunity to support your business in their own way.
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