Exporting goods after Brexit: is your business is prepared?
Detailed discussions are taking place at 10 Downing Street today, but despite this no one can guarantee whether the UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October at 23:00 GMT! We all watch with fervent interest, but as it stands, we could be leaving with “no deal” in just over 21 days! So, what should your business be doing to prepare?
Many of our commercial clients have been asking us for guidance and we have been working closely with them to support them through these turbulent times. Our key consideration is ensuring, that, as far as possible our clients experience the least disruption to their businesses. Leaving the EU without a deal (or a withdrawal agreement) means that the UK would immediately exit the customs union and single market, and the free movement of people, goods, services and capital will no longer apply. UK and EU trade in goods and services will take place under the EU rules that apply to non-EEA countries and any applicable national laws and national practices of member states, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and WTO schedules setting the baseline for access.
The UK is a member of the WTO in its own right, however the European Commission represents EU member states collectively on most WTO matters and the UK shares its WTO schedules with the other member states. While the UK remains a member state (and during any potential post-Brexit transition period), the UK remains bound by the EU's WTO schedules. In the event of a “no deal” Brexit however the UK will draft its own WTO schedules, which will then govern all of the UK's trade with the EU and other countries.
The Government has issued practical step-by-step guidance (https://www.gov.uk/brexit) as to exactly how this will affect UK businesses and expands on what preparations need to be made, which includes what action needs to be taken if you are exporting goods to the EU. If you haven’t had a look through this, now is the time to do it as we all know the Brexit clock is ticking. In our experience some elements may take up to four weeks to complete but the good news is that this appears to be rare. Most of the practical steps you can take to prepare can be completed much more quickly. The exception to this is if you require a licence in relation to certain controlled goods.
If your business exports goods and you have not yet taken any steps to prepare, the above guidance is a good practical starting point. If you’d like our help please contact our commercial team.