As the end of the Brexit transition period approaches, Business West is urging companies to prepare for 1st January to avoid delays and extra costs at the border.
This comes as reports state that progress has been made in difficult areas, but fishing rights, competition rules and how a deal would be enforced are now the "three main issues" in the negotiations.
Regardless of whether a deal is reached, businesses need to act now to get prepared or risk disruption and unnecessary costs at the border on January 1st.
Business West know that firms who have previously only traded with the EU will need to complete customs declarations in January and will be delivering training for companies to highlight what firms need to know to complete them correctly.
Companies can also register their interest for ChamberCustoms (www.businesswest.co.uk/chambercustoms), a service for importers and exporters which will ensure that customs clearance is accurate, timely and avoids costs through delays or errors.
Business West has put together guides for both importers and exporters on how to get prepared for changes to trading rules on 1st January 2021, to try and make the transition to the New Year as smooth as possible.
Catherine Stephens, Head of International Trade Services at Business West said: “While Business West still has capacity to help companies who are importing or exporting to the EU after Brexit, firms must act quickly to avoid a situation where brokers or agents do not have the resources to onboard businesses.
“The number of customs declarations which companies will need to complete are predicted to increase from 55m to 255m, so we strongly advise that companies get in contact with a trained broker, like Business West, without delay.
“The time left to get prepared is minimal, but negotiations are still continuing. For up to date information, I would encourage businesses to visit the Trading through Brexit hub (www.businesswest.co.uk/trading-through-brexit) to receive regular updates and advice.”
Victoria Hale, Office Manager at Glass Eels, an established eel fishery in Gloucester who Business West has been supporting to prepare for Brexit said: “I had no idea how to do any customs declarations…but Business West has helped us understand what we have to do to get our goods out of the country (if we can that is)… it’s good to know where we are with the documentation side.
“But we will need to wait for the middle of December to find out if we can still export to Europe.”
John Stephenson Commercial Director of Tudor Rose said: "We do a huge amount of labelling of products on behalf of companies. We knew that a lot of the companies wouldn’t have the packaging changes they needed on time, so it’s been hugely important for us to understand the requirements around this.”
“We work very closely with Business West to make sure we have as much expert opinion as possible. Business West has been very good at pointing us to a variety of sources and helping us to crystallise our understanding of what is required.”
A webinar will be held on 1 December by British Chambers of Commerce to help businesses prepare, while providing an opportunity to ask any questions about the end of the transition period.