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IoD: Over a quarter of businesses trading with Europe are considering moving operations to EU

15 Nov 2021


The Institute of Directors has undertaken an exclusive poll for Monday’s Dispatches documentary on Channel 4, Did Brexit Work for Business?.

The survey asked a number of questions about businesses’ experiences of trading with the EU since the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into force in January, in particular looking at concerns about increased costs, both to businesses and their continental customers, including rising shipping costs, customs clearance, paperwork, new tariffs and VAT charges.

The IoD’s survey of 635 business leaders reveals that:

  • 26% of SMEs that trade with the EU are​ now considering moving some of their European operations out of Britain, while nearly a fifth (16%) have already decided to move some or all of their EU operations to inside the single market because of Brexit.
  • 62% of businesses that trade with the EU say their costs of trading have risen this year, with the vast majority (70%) having to absorb some or all these costs themselves.
  • Nearly half (47%) of British businesses that trade with the EU are doing less trade or have stopped trading entirely with the EU since January.

Kitty Ussher, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The EU remains our largest and most important trading partner. However, it is clear that since the new trade agreement was introduced, firms have had to deal with very significant increases in costs when dealing with our closest neighbours. Business leaders consistently tell us that the changing nature of our relationship with the EU is having a strongly negative effect on their organisation.

“Brexit has meant that many firms have had to fundamentally adapt their business model. For some that has meant that they have dramatically reduced their trade with the Europe, whilst for others they have had to move some of their operations on to the continent.”

“Whilst it is right that the Government looks to exploit the new opportunities for trade with third markets, we must not lose sight of the practical realities of trading with the EU for UK companies.”

You can watch Did Brexit Work for Business? Dispatches on Monday at 8.30pm on Channel 4.

The survey was conducted between 13th-27th September 2021.

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