Latest News | 4 February 2021

Brexit: Challenges and opportunities?

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Derbyshire businesses are already starting to experience ‘teething problems’ following the UK’s full exit from the EU.

But in the latest Marketing Derby Talking Business Live debate, the panel, made up of experts, exporters and importers, said they hoped that issues experienced since the beginning of January will start to iron themselves out.

At the Talking Business Live session, called ‘Brexit Means…’, which was chaired by Marketing Derby managing director John Forkin, a panel of Bondholders came together to discuss the reality faced by UK businesses now that we have left the EU.

The discussion weighed up the challenges and opportunities, especially in trade and investment.

And as well as hearing from export experts, companies at the import/export coalface shared their stories on how things had changed for them since 1 January.

Among the panel was Karen Ball MBE, head of the Department for International Trade’s Midlands Engine Investment Hub.

She said that some businesses had been distracted by the coronavirus crisis and were only now considering the impact Brexit could have on their future.

She said: “Businesses have had other things on their mind – and they are only just beginning to think about how they’re going to trade.

“We have various online tools and a helpline to help them with potential issues.

“Since we left the EU, businesses are welcoming the zero tariff regime but the increased paperwork is a challenge.”

A man with his close eye on the paperwork is James Goldberg, partner and head of the commercial team at law firm Geldards.

At the discussion, he shared anecdotes on how the changes were impacting on UK firms dealing with the EU – and the legal implications in terms of risk.

He said: “On a micro level, I think the big question is whether these are just teething problems that will sort themselves out, or whether they are here for the long term.”

David Pearson, director partnerships at East Midlands Chamber, also revealed how the changes were impacting some of its members, adding that it had helped 128 businesses in the D2N2 area in January alone.

He said: “The fast parcel operators are not coping, generally. Lots of goods are not getting through the borders in both directions.

“There are added costs to each transaction and there is also an issue in terms of the rules of origin. The fear is that their EU customers will start looking for alternative suppliers in the EU.

“It is a learning curve and hopefully we will get around these teething problems in time.”

Stephen Slack, people manager for Flower World’s manufacturing site in Derby, which makes millions of bouquets for Morrisons stores across the country, said: “We have spent the last four years getting ready for the moment when we fully left the EU.

“We employ a lot of unskilled labour who have come to the UK to work. Covid has made them stay because they cannot travel back home. The key moment will be when those travel restrictions are lifted.”

Lynn Street, sales and marketing manager at Swadlincote-based Midland Lead, which exports lead products all over the world, said: “While Europe is only a small part of our export market, we do import materials from there.

“We are not a ‘just in time’ company so before the UK left the EU we ordered as much as we needed. The logistics partners we work with have been absolutely marvellous in helping us.”

To view the entire discussion click here.

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