While it’s worth acknowledging that nothing is ever settled until it’s done, a no-deal Brexit seems to be pretty close to that point. It’s now August and the UK is due to leave the EU, completely and permanently, at the end of December. With countries around the world still preoccupied with COVID19 and the UK government adamant that there will be an end to extensions, businesses really should be preparing for a no-deal scenario. Here are some pointers.
Take it as read that there will be issues with customs
Even if the government manages to meet its target for recruiting and training customs agents (which currently seems extremely unlikely), it’s almost guaranteed that there will be issues which will only be discovered once the UK starts applying customs checks on goods from the EU.
These won’t necessarily be huge issues. They may well be very small ones, like misprinted documentation or glitches in computer systems, but those minor glitches could add up to a lot of confusion and delays. What’s more, it may take quite some time for them to be fixed. Obviously, there’s nothing that companies can actively do to prepare for this until it happens, but you can and arguably should be prepared for potentially lengthy delays.
On that note, it’s still unclear how the haulage industry will cope in the changeover period. It is, however, probably fair to say that their life will be a whole lot easier if the COVID19 situation is under control (and no other pandemic has emerged to replace it). Then, hopefully, it will just be a case of the haulage industry having to cope with the changes brought about by the new customs arrangements. If, however, COVID19 is still an issue, then businesses could be looking at double-trouble.
Remember to think about accounting (tax/VAT) issues
If you’re already working in the global marketplace, then there’s a good chance that your system will be able to cope with whatever changes are required to deal with any new import tariffs which are levied. That said, it never hurts to check. If, however, you only deal with the EU, then you may find that you need to do some work to update your systems to cope with the new VAT requirements.
In fact, if you’re an SMB, it’s probably more likely that you’ll need to find a third-party vendor to do that for you, in which case there is an extra reason to get started sooner rather than leave it to (even) later. Human nature being what it is, it’s probably a safe bet that there’s going to be a whole rush of businesses wanting (needing) their changes to be made right before the deadline. It’s wise to do your best to avoid being one of them.
Consider where there might be labour shortages and what it might mean for you
It could be very useful to know if any areas of your business have a significant proportion of people whose employment status could be impacted by Brexit. It could also be useful to know if any of the companies on which you depend are likely to be significantly impacted by the loss of access to the EU’s labour pool. This could again result in delays and complications (and a higher likelihood of mistakes) as new staff are hired and trained.
Keep in mind that change can bring opportunity
It may seem trite, but it’s worth repeating and remembering. Regardless of your views on Brexit, the world is going to keep turning and so are the wheels of commerce. For as long as that lasts, there will be opportunities for businesses.