June 2021; Post-Brexit trade update



Dover is seeking a judicial review of a Cabinet Office decision, while the Government offer financial aid to exporters, as food and drink exports to the EU fall by half and critics decry post-Brexit trade deals.

TRADE AGREEMENTS

The UK has agreed with Australia its first big post-Brexit trade deal, with tariffs cut on a range of goods and a significant transition period to abate the concerns of British farmers, which have warned of the “slow, withering death of family farms” in the UK.

Critics of the removal of tariffs and quotas also point out a deal with Australia would, according to the government’s own estimate, increase the size of the British economy by only about 0.01 – 0.02%, over 15 years and is worth less than 5% of the UK’s pre-Brexit EU exports. 

Off the back of the Australian accord, the Government launched negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Monday, which Boris Johnson said would “open up unparalleled opportunities”.

But figures released earlier this week by the Department for International Trade (DfT) forecast a modest boost to UK GDP of £1.8bn in 15 years time from the partnership, compared to the 4% long-term hit to GDP forecast by the government’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility as a result of Brexit.

Businesses have warned that the trade deals struck by the government have yielded little benefit so far, instead causing them to rejig operations and move production and distribution overseas.

TRADE WITH EUROPE

UK exports of food and drink to the EU dropped by almost half in the first three months of 2021 from a year earlier, in what trade groups claim was due to the impact of post-Brexit trade barriers.

Produce to the value of £1.7bn was exported to European countries in the first quarter of the year, down 46.6% from 2020, while the decline from 2019, when exports were unaffected by the pandemic, was even greater, a drop of 55.1%, or £2bn.

Companies are struggling with the costs, paperwork and delays resulting from new customs and veterinary checks, while smaller businesses have suffered from recent barriers to sending multiple shipments in a single load.

UK exporters, especially smaller businesses, have complained about extensive red tape and costs arising from trading with the EU after Brexit.

EXPORT FINANCE

The government’s export credit agency (UKEF), provided British businesses with the highest level of financial support in 30 years in the 12 months to the end of March, almost treble the amount from the previous financial year, to help exports to 77 countries.

The agency supports viable UK exports with loan guarantees, insurance and direct lending to help them win, fulfil and get paid for international business.

UKEF provided more than £7bn in support to companies disrupted by the pandemic, such as Rolls-Royce, Ford and British Airways, with a mixture of trade guarantees and insurance to encourage private sector lending and helped exporters facing Brexit risks, for example providing guarantees on a commercial loan after a carmaker committed operations to the UK.

Support through finance and guarantees was given to 549 companies, more than double the number helped over the previous two years.

Last year, UKEF launched a new scheme to encourage trade after Brexit and for small businesses to take advantage of new trade agreements.

Under this, exporters could apply for larger loans from the UK’s five high street banks backed by an 80% guarantee that can be used both to cover costs linked to exports and also to scale up business operations.

DOVER DISAGREEMENT

The Port of Dover is taking legal action to overturn an “irrational” government decision not to fund a £33.5m project to build more passport check points which it says are needed to cope with post-Brexit immigration controls.

The port, which handles more EU lorry freight than all other UK ports combined, is seeking a judicial review of a Cabinet Office decision last December not to grant funds for the project that would have doubled passport checking capacity.

The case raises the prospect of significant disruptions to cross-Channel trade when passenger numbers rise following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, with French border police informing the port that lorry drivers will face “100% immigration checks”.

Despite the UK consistently running a significant trade imbalance in imported goods, Metro has maintained an export-focus since our foundation 40 years ago, which reflects our geography and long-standing links with key manufacturers.

Over the past four decades Metro has gained essential knowledge and experience in managing export supply chains into many international markets, including retail, fashion, automotive, chemicals, industrial, and manufacturing. 

This export orientation combined with our technological leadership in post-Brexit customs automation means that we are well positioned to simplify customs compliance and trade with Europe.

Our CuDoS customs brokerage platform is optimised continuously, in line with the regimes in force on both sides of the Channel, automating and submitting customs declarations, for simple and compliant border processing in either direction. 

To review your export situation and achieve your trading objectives, please contact Elliot Carlile or Grant Liddell who can talk you through your current situation, address any issues that you may be facing and lay out options to achieve your export objectives.