‘It is un­likely that the EU would want to make th­ese checks es­pe­cially oner­ous’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Lees

It’s a brand new year, but de­spite the mince pies and mulled wine, the same old is­sues rum­ble on. Theresa May is still in of­fice, man­ag­ing to de­lay the ar­du­ous ‘mean­ing­ful vote’ on her deal she faces un­til the mid­dle of this month. It re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge to get through the Com­mons and the prob­a­bil­ity of a no-deal Brexit is ris­ing along with UK and EU prepa­ra­tions for such an out­come.

With so much spin and coun­ter­spin, it’s hard to know what your busi­ness should do or what the im­pacts might be. So what do York­shire busi­nesses really need to think about?

Let’s take a level-headed prac­ti­cal look at the most com­mon ar­eas of con­cern.

Busi­ness travel

2,500 flights take place be­tween the UK and the rest of the EU ev­ery day, with just un­der a third of trips be­ing for busi­ness, ac­cord­ing to the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics.

The claims that flights would be grounded in the event of a vote to Leave the EU or a no-deal Brexit have proven to be false.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has said that in the event of no-deal it will uni­lat­er­ally al­low pointto-point flights be­tween the UK and Euro­pean Union coun­tries for a year. This will give the time needed for a per­ma­nent agree­ment to be put in place.

UK vis­i­tors will be not be re­quired to get a visa and will be al­lowed to stay in the EU for 90 days as long as you have three months left on your pass­port from the day you in­tend to come back to the UK. The rules which pre­vent mo­bile phone roam­ing charges would no longer ap­ply, th­ese are EU rules, but our Gov­ern­ment has said it will leg­is­late to repli­cate the rules in the event of a no-deal. Ex­ports and im­ports Ac­cord­ing to HMRC, around 5 per cent of UK busi­nesses ex­port to the EU. Look­ing specif­i­cally at York­shire and the Hum­ber this trans­lates to around 9,000 out of 183,000 busi­nesses. Just un­der half of our ex­ports are with the EU and we have a trade deficit which means that we im­port more from the EU than we ex­port.

If you’re one of the 5 per cent of busi­nesses, a no-deal Brexit means that we will trade with the EU un­der World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion terms, as we al­ready do with a num­ber of other coun­tries. Ac­cord­ing to Cap­i­tal Eco­nom­ics this would see tar­iffs av­er­ag­ing 5 per cent ap­plied to the things we ex­port to the EU (paid by EU cus­tomers), which could be an­noy­ing but not the ma­jor is­sue.

What is com­monly mis­un­der­stood by TV pun­dits and com­men­ta­tors is the real is­sue, the checks and four types of ex­port dec­la­ra­tions which take time and money. Th­ese are called non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers. The ex­porter is re­spon­si­ble for get­ting the Ex­port Cus­toms Dec­la­ra­tion, the haulage com­pany the Safety and Se­cu­rity Dec­la­ra­tions and the im­porter get­ting an Im­port Dec­la­ra­tion.

Dover to Calais is the route of par­tic­u­lar risk to dis­rup­tion, so if you use this route you may want to look at al­ter­na­tive con­ti­nen­tal fac­ing ports like Im­ming­ham or Tees.

York­shire doesn’t have many just-in-time im­port de­pen­dent busi­nesses, but it does have a size­able num­ber of farm­ers.

Agri­cul­ture ex­ports from

Bri­tish farms are par­tic­u­larly de­pen­dent on trade with the EU. In the event of a no-deal, the EU Com­mis­sion has im­me­di­ately said that the UK would be listed as a third coun­try, so trade will con­tinue. The is­sue is that Ex­port Health Cer­tifi­cates would be needed, and th­ese need to be signed off by a vet for each con­sign­ment and they would need to be in­spected on the EU’s side which could cause de­lays due to a short­age of qual­i­fied peo­ple.

It is un­likely that the EU would want to make th­ese checks es­pe­cially oner­ous as they would im­pact on the sup­ply of goods to su­per­mar­kets and con­sumers on the con­ti­nent. A de­lay of 45 min­utes per lorry for th­ese checks has been suggested by the Road Haulage As­so­ci­a­tion. EU work­ers

Nearly three mil­lion EU na­tion­als live in the UK, with the ma­jor­ity com­ing from Poland and Ire­land. Un­der both a no-deal or a deal, EU cit­i­zens in the UK will have to ap­ply

for set­tled sta­tus to con­tinue liv­ing here after June 30, 2021. Ir­ish cit­i­zens should be able to stay with­out ap­ply­ing.

The UK Gov­ern­ment has now pub­lished its Im­mi­gra­tion White pa­per which ends the Free Move­ment of Peo­ple from the EU and in­tro­duces a ‘skills based im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem’ which would start in a cou­ple of years’ time. They also sug­gest that low-skilled mi­grants will be able to come to the UK from ‘low-risk coun­tries’ on a 12-month visa as a tem­po­rary mea­sure un­til Bri­tish busi­ness trains more lo­cal peo­ple.

In the event of a no-deal, the most likely out­come is that the UK would con­tinue to repli­cate the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion un­til the sys­tems and tech­nol­ogy were in place to im­ple­ment our own im­mi­gra­tion ap­proach. What busi­nesses need to know is whether we have a deal or not, bring­ing in peo­ple from the EU is go­ing to be­come harder. Con­fi­dence

The most im­por­tant thing of course for any busi­ness is con­fi­dence. Economies rise and fall on con­fi­dence. Whether that’s from in­vestors, con­sumers or other busi­nesses.

In the event of no-deal I am sure that the gov­ern­ment of the day would quickly un­veil an emer­gency bud­get that cut taxes on busi­ness and con­sumers, along with more spend­ing on in­fra­struc­ture to try and re­as­sure peo­ple. The Bank of Eng­land of course would also do what it could to re­as­sure mar­kets and busi­ness.

Hope­fully this has given you some clar­ity about the things you need to be think­ing about and demon­strates that although there cer­tainly would be some short term dis­rup­tion and worry, the sky is cer­tainly not go­ing to fall in.

BIG­GER ROLE:Ports in the re­gion such as Im­ming­ham could be used more to han­dle im­ports and ex­ports fol­low­ing Brexit.

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