A Step Ahead of Brexit

So where do we stand now with Brexit?

At an event last week run by Intertrade Ireland on Brexit, it was reported that 98% of businesses had not started making any plans for Brexit and the main reason cited was uncertainty. Businesses want more information before they start to plan and make decisions. There is a lot of noise in the media circles but little substance to act upon. One true guarantee is that Brexit will absolutely impact upon every business in the Mid Ulster area. The unanswered question is how?

Goods, services, people and money cross back and forth over the Republic’s border every day. Our shopping trolleys are filled with goods that originate from EU countries.  We are told that if there is no agreement then the WTO agreement comes into force and there will be tariff barriers imposed just like current trading between non-EU countries.  Tariffs are custom taxes that Governments levy on imported goods. The tax can be unit based and/or a percentage of the cost of the product. In effect they raise the price of the imported product.

The good thing is that businesses in mid Ulster are resilient - we have passed through the largest financial crisis in living memory and survived. The smart entrepreneur will now be exploring what the consequence will be to their business. A reassuring fact is that if WTO tariffs are imposed more than 80% of products traded across the border will have a WTO tariff of less than 10%. However, if you are in the agri-food production sector the tariffs will be a lot higher.

There is also the potential of technical barriers imposed such as labelling, quality standards and pre-shipment inspections. Products may have to have certificates of origin issued by the NI Chamber of Commerce and there is cost for each certificate.

Post Brexit, goods being brought into the UK may be subject to more customs, and associated costs of documentation, customs deposits and possible delays. Some of us are not too old to remember the delays at the customs at Aughnacloy.

We are scheduled to depart the EU on 29 March 2019 and the politicians will do what they do to negotiate an agreement. My advice to Dungannon businesses is to start exploring the potential impact to your business now. The Intertrade Ireland website has a free Brexit planning toolkit and advice and support vouchers of up to £2000 for businesses. There is also a wealth of information on the WTO tariffs  and case studies of businesses making preparations now.  Many of the products traded across the border will not face a tariff, but there will be non-tariff barriers that will be just as difficult to address. We are in unprecedented economic times and the challenge is to think differently.

Brian MacAuley

CEO Dungannon Enterprise Centre

Website: Concept NI Web Solutions

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