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IoD press release One month into new customs arrangements, small businesses are feeling the pinch

Over half of all firms (58%) who have imported from the EU since the new customs arrangements were introduced in January have found the new customs controls ‘challenging’.

In the Institute of Directors survey of over 200 business leaders who import from the EU, it was found the level of difficulty in working with the new controls is also higher for smaller companies. 31% of small businesses reported they found the new arrangements ‘very challenging’, compared to 12% of medium sized businesses and only 7% of larger businesses.

Emma Rowland, Policy Advisor at the Institute of Directors, commented: 

“The first month has been difficult for British businesses importing from the EU, with smaller companies experiencing particular problems.

“Our members have told us these challenges are mainly due to added administration and paperwork, which in many cases means taking on extra costs. Smaller businesses do not have the capacity that larger businesses do to shoulder this burden, both in terms of time and resource. Further digitisation of systems will help streamline border processes and prevent these challenges from turning into long-term issues.

“Overall, we are encouraged that the changes have not been as chaotic as expected. Since it is still early days, we can put initial delays and much of the lack of understanding down to teething problems. But ahead of additional controls coming later in the year, the Government must ramp up awareness and resources for SMEs, learning from the difficulties many companies have experienced in the last month.

“We have a way to go before the arrangements for trading with the EU have settled. If our leaders work together to prioritise businesses’ confidence when trading across the Channel, that is a very good first step.”

Full survey results 

Conducted between 13th-28th January 2022

From 1st January 2022, the government introduced new customs controls on imports from the EU, including pre-notification requirements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods and full import declarations. Please choose the statement that best describes your experience. 

Filtered to include only those who import from the EU 

I am finding the new import controls very challenging
I am finding the new import controls quite challenging
The new import controls are having minimal impact on my organisation
I import from the EU but have not yet done so under the new arrangements

Filtered to include only those who have imported under the new arrangements, and by size of business 

Small Business Employee Numbers
Medium Business Employee Numbers
Large Business Employee Numbers
I am finding the new import controls very challenging
I am finding the new import controls quite challenging
The new import controls are having minimal impact on my organisation

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