The UK and the EU continue to discuss the recent problems surrounding the implementation of the new trading rules for Northern Ireland. Whilst both parties declare their commitment to the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) it is clear the confusion at the borders surrounding the checks taking place is causing delays and uncertainty to businesses and disruption to supplies of essential items such as food. The NIP was designed to ensure an open border remained on the island of Ireland after Brexit. The UK has called for a two-year delay in implementation and there is push back from Ireland and the EU who state any pause in enforcement can only be for a matter of months.
We will keep you up to date with any new developments.
Last week Lord David Frost criticised the EU for its actions since the trade deal was announced stating the relationship was more “problematic” than he had hoped and called for a “different spirit” from Brussels going forward. If we put aside the political differences the key issues remain on “equivalence” on regulations being accepted by the EU for the UK Financial Services sector and for data sharing between both parties. Once we have news on either of these matters we will update you.
The UK continues to arrange trade deals with other countries and this now numbers over 40 deals covering 70 countries. On the 31 January, the UK Government announced it was applying to join a free trade area for Asia and Pacific nations called the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” (CPTPP). This covers a market of around 500 million people and some of its members include Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. In 2019 the countries in this bloc accounted for roughly 8% of UK exports.
More stories about customs delays, barriers and administration issues continue to emerge and the Government has been accused of putting sovereignty above the wellbeing of people by Welsh minister Jeremy Miles. His comments follow the notable reduction in usage of Welsh ports as Irish hauliers are now taking ferries directly to the EU to avoid the problems at UK ports.
We predict that at some point in the future there will be a return to negotiations between the UK Government and the EU to resolve some of these issues.
In the meantime, the Government has announced a £20 million support package for small businesses (SMEs) to mitigate some of the time and costs caused by the new rules.
Michael Gove has announced the SME Brexit Support Fund to help small and medium-sized businesses when trading with the European Union. The funding has been made available to help companies tackle new customs, rules of origin, and VAT rules when conducting business with the bloc.
SMEs that trade solely with the EU are being encouraged to apply for grants of up to £2,000 per trader to help pay for support, training, and professional advice to maintain effective trading.
Funds will be delivered through the pre-existing Customs Grant Scheme and will be open for applications from SMEs next month.
Currently you can apply for grants to help your business with customs declarations.
You can apply to get funding for:
- recruitment, training and IT to help your business to complete customs declarations.
- co-funded training project to help your business complete customs declarations.
- trader-training to understand customs.
For further information on the Customs Grant Scheme see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/grants-for-businesses-that-complete-customs-declarations
We will keep you up to date about when the application process is open.