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The UK currently feels as though it’s in a state of optimism with the roll out of vaccines promising light at the end of the tunnel in our fight against the coronavirus pandemic. However, just beneath the surface there is a definite sense of unease concerning the state of the UK’s economy and the major disruption cross border trade is currently suffering. The news that came out today will do nothing to ease these concerns, with the ONS reporting that UK exports to the EU dropped 40% in January and imports have also fell dramatically. Let’s take a look at the precarious position the UK is finding itself in and what the government intends to do about it.

What’s Going On In The Background

 

It is no surprise that the two main contributing factors to the UK’s economic downturn are the Coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.

 

Due to the pandemic the UK was forced into its third lockdown in January. This understandably halted any progress that was being made in terms of economic recovery, as is evidenced by the fact that the UK economy shrank 2.9% in January. This now means that the economy is now almost 10% smaller than it was before the start of the pandemic.

 

Brexit has not helped the situation. There have been countless reports of severe delays and small errors in paperwork resulting in missed delivery times and perishables being wasted. Mostly, this is due to the sheer amount of red tape importers and exporters are having to deal with and the lack of clarity surrounding what regulations traders must follow.

 

This is not to mention the problems with Northern Ireland. Many food supplies and online shopping deliveries from Great Britain to Northern Ireland have been subject to delays, which has caused supermarkets being severely under-stocked and some of the food perishing. The staff carrying out inspections at the border have reported threats from aggrieved lorry drivers and extremely high tension.

What Are The Government Doing In Response?

 

Yesterday’s news regarding the extension of the existing post-Brexit import customs declarations deferment from 1 July 2021 until 1 January 2022 will offer some relief to importers. Whilst customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1 January 2022.

 

Even this though is problematic since the EU are not extending the same help to UK exporters. Indeed, they have been requiring complete customs declaration forms from January. Therefore, whilst this is helping with the importation of goods to UK, which will help keep stock levels high during the pandemic, UK exporters would be well within their rights to complain that this is giving an unfair advantage to European competitors as the EU essentially have a post-Brexit transitional period extension.

 

This is comically ironic, when one considers that the whole point of Brexit was supposedly to give an advantage to British firms. Manufacturing also fell in January for the first time since April, once again showing the lack of positive effects Brexit has had so far on the UK’s production.

 

As for Northern Ireland, the UK did extend the grace period, which meant that procedures and checks are not fully applied in order to allow a freer movement of goods into Northern Ireland. Again, whilst this seems a good thing on the surface, the EU are viewing this as a breach of international Law and are threatening legal action.

 

Conclusion

 

Clearly, the UK is in a serious state of flux at the moment. You would not be alone if you are worried about your business, especially if you export regularly from the UK. You should let us help you.

 

If you are a business who participates in cross border e-commerce, or exporting of any kind, we would be more than happy to help you register for UK VAT, the UK VAT deferral scheme, gain an EU and UK EORI number, file your UK and EU VAT returns, and help you comply with VAT in case your account faces any issues. At J&P, helping your business is our passion, and we understand that companies across the UK are at risk now more than ever. We are here to support you through Brexit, so please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0161 637 1080 or send an e-mail to enquiries@jpaccountant.com.