East Anglian importers and exporters not ready for Brexit, survey finds
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Only 8% of East Anglian importers and exporters are fully prepared for Brexit, according to a new survey.
In a poll of around 50 East Anglian import and export businesses conducted by MHA Larking Gowen, 8% said they were fully prepared while 37% answered they were more than half prepared.
Chris Scargill, a partner and business advisor at MHA Larking Gowen, believes that the coronavirus pandemic has hampered businesses preparation.
He said: “The problems Brexit will throw up are surmountable, but they also require a long-term strategy to adjust to new trading arrangements and regulatory issues. The lack of preparedness is very understandable given the pandemic, but businesses now need to act promptly and get in the right mindset to see Brexit through over the next five to ten years.”
Antonio Bellini is an importer who has been hampered by the pandemic. He runs the Italian Shirt Shop on St Peter’s Street in Ipswich.
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He imports directly from a factory in Naples and said that the pandemic had already made it more difficult for him to import stock.
Mr Bellini said: “Because of the pandemic it’s really hard to get the stock from Italy because I can’t get there to organise and pay for it.
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“Normally I go out and about three weeks later the stock arrives in England.
“All of this is so difficult at the moment and could become more difficult after we come out of Europe in December.
“It’s another barrier I’ve got to see if I can get through, but at the moment it’s simply about getting the stock.”
Mr Scargill added: “Due to Covid-19 the majority of British companies involved in exporting to Europe have not been able to give Brexit the attention they should, and unfortunately, some are in denial about the scale of the challenge.
“It is crucial to realise that although a deal will bring great relief to businesses and their bottom line by removing the cost of duty tariffs, the legal and regulatory as well as administrative costs will remain.
“For example, customs declarations cost money, irrespective of any actual duty being charged.”
But Mr Scargill warned: “Being unprepared and getting caught out will cost even more. If goods turn up at the border without the right paperwork they will just be stuck in the port”