Brexit Chaos - 'We can't get anyone to transport our products to the EU'

A South Yorkshire exporter is unable to export to the EU amid the chaos stemming from the Brexit deal – threatening 30 per cent of business and a £1m sales boost.

World Feeds says no transporter will touch their products due to a logjam of shipments at ports.

It comes as a British Chambers of Commerce survey found 49 per cent of UK goods exporters and 51 per cent of manufacturers reported difficulties in adapting to new trade rules - representing an ‘existential’ threat to some.

World Feeds, based in Thorne, makes and exports fish food to 40 countries.

World feeds managing director Peter Kersch, left, and Mark Wilson, technical director.

Managing director Peter Kersch said: “We can't get anyone to transport our products into the EU. No one will touch it. Many large companies have suspended shipments to the EU, which we understand because they have so many vehicles and consignments tied up awaiting clearance due to new red tape and documentation.

“Exporting has now become a lottery. Over 30 per cent of our business is at risk if this is not sorted out quickly. For a small company like ours it is critical. We have major planned business development in Germany and Norway this year to give us an increase close to £1m in sales.”

The UK-EU Brexit deal, which came into force on January 1, has been criticised for imposing a swathe of declarations, tariffs, fees and VAT payments. It has also led to chaos at UK borders due to increased customs checks and red-tape.

Dan Fell, chief executive of Doncaster Chamber said exporters were ‘hamstrung by red tape’ – when the economy should be growing to repair the ‘massive hit’ from coronavirus.

World Feeds in Thorne has been hit by Brexit chaos.

He added: “Our business community has been put through the mill this last year and large elements are, quite justifiably, asking where their friends in government are at present…

“If the economy is to recover fully from the pandemic, businesses must be able to trade competitively with the EU. It is incumbent on government to work swiftly with EU partners to remove the barriers that many companies are now facing through no fault of their own.”

The BCC survey was carried out between 18 and 31 January and received 1,000 responses mainly from SMEs, 47 per cent of which exported goods or services.

Comments included:

- “We are in the perfect storm following the pandemic, where supply chains were hit hard, container ships are all out of position – in general shipping worldwide is a nightmare.”

- “There is no support from government to fund delays or extra stock-holding required to deal with the delays or to assist in extra charges incurred by us or our customers.”

- “A small business like ours does not have the resources to deal with all the extra work.” 

BCC director general  Adam Marshall  said:  “Trading businesses – and the UK’s chances at a strong economic recovery – are being hit hard by changes at the border.

“The late agreement of a UK-EU trade deal left businesses in the dark on the detail right until the last minute, so it’s unsurprising to see that so many businesses are now experiencing practical difficulties on the ground as the new arrangements go live.

“For some firms these concerns are existential, and go well beyond mere ‘teething problems’. It should not be the case that companies simply have to give up on selling their goods and services into the EU.”

The situation could get worse if, as scheduled, additional sanitary and phyto-sanitary checks are introduced in April and full customs checks imposed on imports in July, he added.

Now the BCC see is calling on the UK Government to:

· immediately publish plans for the worst blocakages

· create tax credits allowing firms to offset their spending on adaptation to the new UK-EU requirements against their tax bill

· push back SPS checks (from April) and full customs checks (from July) on imports

· work with EU partners to minimise burdens, including on aspects of Rules of Origin and VAT.

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We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.