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UK businesses are asking the government for more help exporting to Europe, after new research finds many companies believe the EU trade deal is not helping them grow or increase sales .
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) surveyed 1,000 businesses and found that a majority of them said it had created problems such as increased costs, increased paperwork and delays, and the UK’s competitive disadvantage.
Only 8% of companies agreed that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) “allowed their business to grow or increase sales”, while 54% disagreed.
For UK exporters, 12% (or just one in eight) agreed that the TCA helped them, while 71% disagreed.
The BCC received 59 comments on the merits of the ACT, which was agreed on Christmas Eve 2020, including:
- It had allowed some companies to continue trading without significant change
- He had encouraged companies to look to other global markets
- It had provided stability to allow businesses to plan.
But that was topped by 320 comments criticizing the deal, such as:
- This had resulted in increased costs for companies and their customers
- Small businesses had neither the time nor the money to deal with the bureaucracy it introduced
- This had deterred EU customers from considering UK goods and services – due to the perceived costs and complexities.
Guillaume Bainresponsible for commercial policy Bccsaid small businesses are particularly hurt by the changing trade relationship between the UK and the EU.
“This is the latest study from the BCC which clearly shows that the trade agreement with the EU has issues that need to be improved.
“Nearly all of the companies in this research have fewer than 250 employees, and these smaller companies feel most of the pain from the new burdens of TCA.
“Many of these companies do not have the time, staff or money to deal with the extra paperwork and rising costs of doing business with the EU, nor can they afford to establish a new base in Europe or to pay intermediaries to represent them.”
The BCC made a number of suggestions, including measures to reduce the complexity of exporting food and to tackle limitations on business travel and professional activities in the EU.
Last week, MPs on Parliament’s spending watch warned that Brexit bureaucracy had hurt Britain’s trade with the EU. They fear the situation will get worse unless the government works with Brussels to ease blockages at UK ports,
A government spokesperson, however, said businesses were receiving help to help them cope with Brexit-related changes:
“The Trade and Cooperation Agreement is the largest duty-free, quota-free free trade agreement in the world. It allows UK businesses to trade freely with Europe while being able to seize new business opportunities with countries around the world.
“We have always been clear that being outside the single market and customs union would mean changes and businesses would have to adapt to new processes. That’s why we make sure businesses get the support they need, including through the free Export Helpdesk.
“Exports of goods to EU countries increased by 4% last year compared to 2020. However, given the Covid-19 pandemic, the global recession and the disruption of the supply chain. sourcing, it is still too early to draw definitive conclusions on the long-term impacts of our new trade relationship with the EU.
But there is evidence that UK trade has weakened in recent years. UK goods exports to the EU fell by £20bn last year compared to the last period of stable trade with Europe, official figures show, marking the first full year since Brexit .
Elsewhere today, companies like Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser and Standard charter report results.
European markets are expected to open a little lower, with the Ukrainian crisis in focus.
The United States said that Russia has deployed another 7,000 troops to the border, while Ukraine has denied claims by Russian-backed separatists that it carried out mortar attacks on their territory.
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