Responding to the Department for International Trade’s update on the status of EU trade agreements the UK is seeking to transition, Edwin Morgan, interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“While this update is welcome, it comes late in the day. We can only hope that those impacted by the failure to roll over EU trade arrangements with other countries by 29 March will still be able to take appropriate action in preparing for no-deal. They do not have much time.
“These agreements may only constitute 11% of UK trade, but if you are one of the companies affected it only matters what proportion of your business could be hit. Any interruption or changes in preferential access to these countries means disruption for business, one of the reasons why a large majority of our members reject no deal as the way forward.
“In the absence of any further detail, companies looking at the long list of countries where negotiations are marked as ‘engagement ongoing’ should plan for the worst, as it is impossible to discern from this how close the Government is to reaching a deal.
“Many businesses use intermediaries to handle their external trade, so it hardly surprising that there are just as many IoD members who aren’t sure if they are using these agreements as there are who report taking advantage of them. This underscores the need for an information campaign that puts the same kind of emphasis on preparing for trade with the rest of the world as there has been on planning for change to EU trade under no-deal as well.
“It would also be helpful for the Government to work with its counterparts in affected countries to pull together a clear set of contingency measures from other customs authorities and regulatory bodies to make sure British exporters are aware of any changes to how their products and services will be treated in these markets in the event of no-deal on 29 March.”