Sheffield climbing firm sets up in Holland to beat Brexit damage

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One of Sheffield’s best known climbing brands has set up in Holland to avoid damage from Brexit.

Moon Climbing, which makes clothes and training equipment, shifted some operations abroad after ‘multiple difficulties’ and confusion over documentation, VAT and red tape.

Boss Ben Moon said he expected it to become their main base to serve the EU and the rest of the world.

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He added: “What is absolutely clear is that we do not have ‘frictionless trade’.”

Ben Moon.Ben Moon.
Ben Moon.

An EU/UK free trade agreement came into force in January after the UK left the European Union.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said several other businesses had contacted him to say they’d had to either move abroad or change operations or supply chains because of new Brexit barriers.

And he urged the Government to do more to protect local businesses.

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He told the House of Commons: “Moon Climbing, a specialist rock climbing supplier in my constituency, tells me that since January, new barriers have damaged their trade with Europe.

Paul Blomfield.  Picture Tony Johnson.Paul Blomfield.  Picture Tony Johnson.
Paul Blomfield. Picture Tony Johnson.

“In line with the apparent advice of DIT officials, they’ve set up a base in the Netherlands to avoid the barriers – and they anticipate it ‘will be our main base from which we service both the EU and the rest of the world’.

“I heard the Minister and the Secretary of State say earlier that it’s nothing to do with them, but frankly companies expect the Department for International Trade to take some responsibility for trade.

“So what are they doing to prevent more UK businesses moving abroad as a result of the damaging Brexit deal - losing UK jobs, GDP and tax revenue?”

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Graham Stuart, Under Secretary of State at the Department of International Trade, said frictions were ‘inevitable’ but the government had given people the tools to overcome them.

Graham Stuart, Under Secretary of State at the Department of International Trade.Graham Stuart, Under Secretary of State at the Department of International Trade.
Graham Stuart, Under Secretary of State at the Department of International Trade.

“The British people decided to leave the European Union and we are supporting businesses in Europe and beyond.

“It is not overly complicated to accept it is the Cabinet Office and the unit led by Lord David Frost who are taking responsibility for those negotiations.

“But we work actively and we run webinars with thousands attending in order to give people the tools to overcome the frictions which inevitably result from our departure.

“But I’m pleased to say they were reducing over time and I’m confident we will return to where we were in 2019 when we were the only top ten exporting nation in the world to see our exports rise.”

After the exchange, Mr Blomfield responded: “It’s incredible that even the Department for International Trade’s own officials are encouraging businesses to move abroad to avoid the barriers and costs of the Government’s Brexit deal.

“Again, this proves that the Prime Minister’s bluster about the deal containing ‘no non-tariff barriers’ on Christmas Eve was complete rubbish – and now we’re seeing the consequences.

“With the pandemic having a huge impact on the economy, it’s essential that the Government works to improve their deal to protect UK jobs, and prevent more businesses like Ben’s from making the tough decisions to set up abroad to protect their margins.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.