The way the UK does business with Europe changes from January 1, heralding a new start for the small and medium-sized companies. Let’s get businesses ready to take advantage of new opportunities…
A new year, a new start. The UK has left the EU and will leave the single market and customs union at the end of transition period on December 31 2020.
This means changes in the way the UK does business with Europe and companies need to be ready to make the most of new opportunities.
While the final form of that relationship is still being established in negotiations between the UK and the EU, there are important preparations that all businesses should be making now in order to head off potential problems.
The UK Government has put a range of support measures in place.
If you run a business, it is important that you check what you need to do now. To make the process easy the UK Government has set up the gov.uk/transition website. Here you will find all the information, tools, advice and checklists you need. It includes how to continue trading to and from the EU. These rules also apply to importing goods from the rest of the world.
You can find out how commodities – wine, hops, eggs, poultry meat, beef and veal, fruit and vegetables – meet the requirements for export to the EU from January 1 2021.
There is also information and what to do if your employees need a visa or work permit and whether they meet the professional requirements for the country they’re travelling to. The site includes information for all business types including advanced manufacturing and services like aerospace and electronics, agriculture, animals, fisheries and forestry; business and personal services, charities and voluntary organisations, construction and environmental services, defence, entertainment, education, transport and tourism.
The UK Government has also implemented other measures including introducing new border controls in stages up until July 1 2021 and providing more than £80 million to boost the capacity of the customs intermediary sector.
It has announced a £705 million funding package for border infrastructure, staffing and IT to ensure border systems are fully operational when the UK takes back control of its border after the end of transition.
As well as the gov.uk/transition website, trade associations, chambers of commerce and business support groups also offer valuable support. Now is the time to put the right preparations in place.
Ensure you are prepared
Make sure your business is ready for the end of transition period by visiting gov.uk/transition
Check tariffs that will apply to goods you import at gov.uk/guidance/ uk-tariffs-from-1-january-2021
For more information on staff travel, work and providing services to any country in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland from 2021 visit gov.uk/transition
‘We aim to make the most of new opportunities’
One firm looking forward to new opportunities the new year will bring is John Reid & Sons Ltd (REIDsteel).
Managing Director Simon Boyd said: “We are incredibly positive about the new start, not only for our business but also for the UK economy. International trade is in the DNA of our company from its birth over a century ago to the modern day.”
His £30 million turnover structural steel company has exported to more than 140 countries to date, directly employing 130 staff and at peak times providing work for 400 subcontractors. “I believe it is a tremendous opportunity to restore British Standards to their rightful position as a hallmark of excellence worldwide while giving a shot in the arm to British manufacturing,” continued the MD.
“We will be seeking to invest as a company and take full advantage of the benefits the new start will bring, allowing us to improve productivity, create jobs, grow our business, ultimately boosting the economy and Great Britain’s place in the world.” REIDsteel is well versed in the
intricacies of trading in the European Union and worldwide, having drawn on its own expertise while also utilising UK Government resources such as the gov.uk/transition website for detailed planning to ensure business continuity in the days, weeks and months leading up to December 31 as well as for longer term strategic considerations. REIDsteel has long-standing plans in place to capitalise on the benefits the new start will bring, including a multi-million-pound new manufacturing facility.
Mr Boyd said: “We immediately hit the go button on our long-held plans for a new manufacturing facility once the country voted to leave the EU. It will considerably boost the company’s productivity, allow us to create more jobs, take our apprenticeship programme to the next level, provide more work for firms in our supply chain and grow our business.
“But, more than that, we see it is a vote of confidence in Great Britain. We are an ambitious company, both for ourselves and the country. This gives us the potential to achieve those ambitions.” REIDsteel has used home products for most of its history but consolidated that in December when it made British Steel its primary supplier.
Mr Boyd continued: “We do trade in Europe, but not as much as we would like, as the bureaucracy and protectionism that has built up over many years can make it extremely difficult.
“The gov.uk/transition site does the hard work by identifying key issues of concern for individual businesses. “Many businesses could be forgiven for wanting to switch off but it is critical that they engage,” added Mr Boyd. “It is not too late to get to grips with the issues involved, and the gov.uk/ transition site is the best place to start.
“With its interactive format it will only present the relevant issues affecting a business, which means a hard-pressed director or time-poor SME boss doesn’t have to plough through reams of information.
“It serves as a checklist of issues to consider or address, but also has links to other government resources for relevant information.
“But, more than that, it can also serve as inspiration for potential business opportunities after transition or for ways to improve business efficiency or productivity.
“I would encourage all firms to view this move positively and take advantage of the support on offer from the UK Government.”
To find out more about the UK’s new start go to gov.uk/transition