Brexit has created a number of challenges for businesses working in export and import to and from Europe. With Britain's exit from the free trade area, new regulations and paperwork have been implemented, causing significant delays at customs and extra costs in the form of tariffs. So what's the situation now for businesses who have previously been involved in this type of business with European customers and suppliers?
The changes brought about by Brexit
In the first quarter of post-Brexit trade between the UK and the EU, exporting activity to the EU had dropped by a huge 18%. What's more, import activity was down by 21% compared to the final quarter of 2020 before Britain exited Europe. These official figures from government sources show how difficult the transition period has been for businesses, which have had to deal with long queues at customs, onerous paperwork, and often crippling administrative bureaucracy which has led to many businesses considering an alternative future in other markets.
The sectors that were hardest hit include food and drink. There were even scenes of chaos in the fishing industry after France entered into a fishing dispute over challenged waters and fishing terms after Brexit, and Boris Johnson was forced to deploy naval vessels to ensure British fishing vessels could still operate.
The results of this chaos are still only just becoming clear as official quarterly figures begin to be published. For example, for the first time, non-EU imports outstripped EU imports in March, after Britain signed up to over 20 new trade deals with other global trading partners, often on similar terms that were enjoyed when the country was part of Europe.
Many businesses fear that the situation in Europe may never actually fully resolve, with the Brexit Minister, Lord Frost, recently admitting that things may never fully go back to normal, even if both sides adopted a heavily pragmatic approach to free trade. Checks at the Northern Ireland border are also causing more significant difficulties than the government expected and this issue is expected to persist for some time. Some recent reports suggest that backlogs are beginning to clear, but the true 'business as usual' picture remains muddy.
Of course, the challenges with Brexit have been made all the more difficult with the past year of Covid restrictions and lockdowns and the fact that many businesses have been heavily affected on both fronts - the challenges of Covid trading and the difficulties of Brexit. Throw in other unexpected issues such as fuel pipeline disruptions in the US, submerged super-cargo ships in the Suez Canal, and a global backlog of shipping generally due to container access limitations and port unloading delays and there really has been a perfect storm for British importers and exporters to deal with!
Certainly, many businesses have said that they are struggling with the current situation and the delays at European customs as long forms have needed to be filled in, onerous checks completed and delays sometimes rendering shipments of fresh food, drink, flowers, and other perishables unsaleable.
Customers have also complained that new taxes are being applied on orders of products from EU countries (and vice versa) which removes the cost benefits of shopping online. This is because taxes levied between the UK and Europe are now the same as would be applied to any other country out of the EU trading with the region.
The hope now is that the British government and the EU can work together to create practical, beneficial solutions that help both economies to trade as freely as possible. The politics of the situation have meant that Brexit has become a zero-sum game for some who were reluctant to ever countenance the UK leaving Europe. But the hope is that the majority of policymakers and influencers are now keen to make positive progress for everyone.
A possible solution?
At Wares of Knutsford, we know that a number of our customers are involved in importing glass jars and importing glass bottles. For this reason, we are now delighted to be able to offer even more competitive costs on our glassware lines, with pallet orders available for even lower costs. This is because we have moved to bigger facilities that allow us to stock far greater volumes of stock on our own premises - allowing us to then pass on cost savings to our customers.
If your business imports glass products - perhaps for reselling, for using in a services business or for filling with products, we can offer an alternative and save you time and money when compared to importing glass bottles from Europe. Buy from Wares of Knutsford and you will avoid all of the costs and administrative delays that come with importing glass jars.
You will enjoy competitive prices and equally low rates on rapid delivery from another proud British business. What's more, our customer service is excellent and we only stock the highest quality products for reliable resale. Please browse our stocks online today and contact our team with any queries that you might have.