Businesses will welcome the relief that goods can move across to Northern Ireland without any additional disruption for the next few months
Responding to yesterday's ONS trade statistics, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The pandemic and the shift to new trading conditions in how UK companies sell services to the EU have led to a clear reduction in UK-EU services trade compared with 2019. Today’s ONS data release shows services trade with the EU fell at a brisker rate than trade with the rest of the world over the two years to the end of March 2021. Services exports to the EU fell by 14.7% in that period and imports by 38.8%."
Responding to the announcement of the new UK approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: “Businesses in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland need durable, workable, negotiated solutions on compliance with the Protocol to ensure the continued two-way flow of goods East-West and North-South. The UK Government and EU need to work together to find solutions which work for business."
Hard-pressed companies will need further support into next year as they adjust to this new phase of the biggest change in trading terms with the rest of Europe for half a century.
BCC says while it is a relief that the ratification of the TCA has gone smoothly, it is now vital that both the UK and EU work together to alleviate the significant disruption and difficulty which many firms continue to report.
BCC says data for February 2021 shows modest growth and a further boost is likely as economy reopens but warns that continued improvement is not guaranteed.
The British Chambers of Commerce’s Trade Confidence Outlook for Q1, released today, has revealed the stark issues facing UK exporters in the first months of this year. The survey of more than 2,900 UK exporters revealed that the percentage of firms reporting decreased export sales had increased to 41%, up from 38% in the previous quarter. The percentage of businesses reporting increased export sales fell to 20%, down from 22% in Q4 2020. 40% reported no change in their export sales.
BCC Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, says practical difficulties faced by businesses on the ground go well beyond teething problems, and with disruption to UK-EU trade flows persisting, trade is likely to be a drag on UK economic growth in the first quarter of 2021.
Results from the first major business survey for 2021 by the British Chambers of Commerce on Brexit found that half (49%) of exporters are facing difficulties in adapting to the changes in the trade of goods following the ratification of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 1 January 2021.