Small businesses in the UK suspended their cross-Channel trade operations following Britain’s separation from the European Union (EU) on December 31, 2020.
Some of the UK’s SMEs witnessed the difficulties importers and exporters face, causing them to stop their cross-Channel businesses. Most can’t afford the aftereffects launched by the new border rules resulting in an avalanche of red tape, paperwork, and extra costs.
The Affected Industries Make a Move
One of the many affected companies is The Curiosity Box, a small business owned by Renee Watson. Based in Oxfordshire, this company specializes in making science kits for children. Watson now faces a bill of around £20,000 to meet new safety regulations mandated by the Brexit deal. On top of that, there’s also the need to pay £500 per product for the new UKCA safety marks.
Aston Chemicals, a medium-sized business in Aylesbury that imports and distributes specialist chemicals used in cosmetics brands, was also affected. According to Dani Loughran, Aston Chemicals’ managing director, they dispatched their final load to Europe on December 18 because of “the duplication of EU chemical regulations, the risk of tariffs because of rules of origin, border delays, and increased freight and administration costs left us no choice.”
Instead, the company set up a Polish branch in Macierzysz. It supplied all EU countries from outside of the UK, circumventing the “massive headache” and the other restrictions and fees caused by the Brexit deal.
The “Perfect Storm” Hits the Seafood Industry
Andrew Trust, a fish merchant based in Looe, Cornwall, said he had to stop his 21 years of fish trade “because of all the extra red tape, and unviable extra costs.” He noted that some of his competitors were stubborn about it.
Still, they encountered so many problems, including “lorries stuck in Calais for three days, or worse, had fish rejected and returned because the postcode was next door to its destination address.”
As a small merchant, he thinks 36% of export trade costs too much. As a result, about 120 tons of fish that his company would have disposed of for the local fish markets of Plymouth and Brixham per year will now have to find a new market.
He also thinks that because 80% of the fish caught in the UK is sold to Europe, the Brexit deal is “the biggest disaster for the fishing industry in 50 Years,” he adds.
John Ross, a Scottish seafood exporter, said the Brexit deal is like the “perfect storm” sinking the centuries-old fish trade industry. Between the numerous paperwork and the insufficient customs support, and the finite window for marketing seafood, the teething problems due to the new regulatory checks at the border are disrupting the businesses, and the government will do well working on transition vouchers.