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HMRC urges firms to adopt Customs Declaration System or ‘risk being unable to bring goods into UK’

HMRC has warned UK firms yet to begin using the new Customs Declaration System that they may soon be unable to import products into the country. 

Over 3,500 firms risk significant delays if they don’t move to the new service within the next two months and are being warned that registration and adoption aren’t instantaneous either. 

HMRC’s director of programme and operational delivery for borders and trade, Julie Etheridge, noted, “There are now only two months left until businesses must use CDS for imports. Businesses need to move now or risk being unable to bring their goods into the UK.

“Registering takes time so businesses should start moving to the Customs Declaration Service to ensure a smooth transition and avoid disruption to their business.”

The new Customs Declaration System, brought in following the UK’s departure from the EU, includes a number of significant changes for importing businesses, including;

  • New data element fields with specific formats
  • New dashboards to monitor and manage declarations
  • A two-part customs procedure code, with a four-digit code combined with one of up to 99 three-digit additional procedure codes (APCs)
  • Requirement for more detailed customs information 

Vicky Payne of the IOT&IT additionally commented that: “With the new changes coming into place, I would highly recommend that firms properly understand all the elements of a customs declaration in addition to having access to the relevant platforms and other preparations for CDS.

“It is evident that traders will need to make several changes to adjust to the new system and the IOE&IT has products to support your learning.”

Businesses requiring more information can do so on the government’s website here

If your firm lacks the time or internal expertise and resources to manage the shift, then Go Exporting can help. Our Customs & Compliance Reports cover all aspects of your trade with a specific country or trade bloc, including the EU. 

Read more: Exports to EU fall to lowest level in 11 years as imports continue to rise

The result will provide you with a complete picture of the rules as they apply to your business and recommend the best processes and procedures for you to follow to meet both legal requirements and the goal of ‘least hassle’ for you and your customers. 

Find out more and get in touch here.

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Negotiations begin over trade deal between UK and Gulf nations

The UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council have kicked off the first round of trade talks in Riyadh in a deal that could cover more than £33bn in annual trade. 

The GCC, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, would be equivalent to the UK’s seventh-largest export market, with demand for international products and services in the region expected to rise to £800bn by 2035. 

The deal itself is expected to be worth around £1.6bn a year to the UK economy. 

These latest talks follow similar discussions with Canada and Mexico earlier this year. 

UK international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, commented on the kick-off of trade negotiations that: “Today marks the next significant milestone in our 5-star year of trade as we step up the UK’s close relationship with the Gulf.

“Our current trading relationship was worth £33.1 billion in the last year alone. From our fantastic British food and drink to our outstanding financial services, I’m excited to open up new markets for UK businesses large and small, and supporting the more than ten thousand SMEs already exporting to the region.

“This trade deal has the potential to support jobs from Dover to Doha, growing our economy at home, building vital green industries and supplying innovative services to the Gulf.”

Key winners from any trade deal would include British farmers and producers, whilst tariffs on items such as chocolate, baking products, biscuits and smoked salmon could all be cut. 

A trade agreement would also open up the door to more inward investment from the Gulf into the UK, with investments from the region already supporting around 25,000 jobs in the UK alone. 

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‘Bonfire of the barriers’ promised for UK exporters

The government has promised a ‘bonfire’ of the current barriers to international trade for exporting business in the UK. 

International trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan made the announcement as part of a new drive to reduce red tape and barriers to exports around the world – estimated to be worth £20bn in economic benefit for British firms. 

There are 100 priority issues that have been identified by the Department for International Trade, including regulations on meat exports to Asia, rules delaying British medical devices entering South Africa, and restrictions on UK lawyers operating in Japan. 

The move is part of ongoing post-Brexit work to strengthen or create new trading routes for UK businesses outside of the EU. 

Trevelyan said in a statement that: “Every week we remove trade barriers somewhere around the world, helping more and more businesses all over the country.

“We know that businesses who export pay higher wages and are more productive than businesses who do not, but too often, complex trade rules and practical obstacles prevent them selling overseas.

“This bonfire of the barriers will grow our economy by allowing our brilliant businesses to satisfy the enormous global appetite for their goods and services.”

Whilst Brexit has caused major upheaval for the majority of import/export businesses in the UK, leaving the European Union has allowed the UK government to pursue independent trade agreements around the world, as well as addressing specific blockers on British trade. 

These include opening the Chinese market for UK lamb for the first time, worth £1.5bn a year, as well as beef in South Korea which within the next five years is hoped will open a market worth £2.5bn to British producers. 

So far, the DiT has identified and resolved around 400 trade barriers in the last two years, including barriers for individual businesses, including VetPlus where overcoming bureaucratic issues enabled the Lancashire-based firm to export pet supplements to India in a move worth £1.4m. 

VetPlus EMEA regional manager, Anthony Stewart, commented that: “Being able to meet the different compliance requirements across the markets we operate in is extremely important to ensure the availability of our products for vets and pet owners.

“Recently, we ran into a challenge in exporting our products to India and the support from the DIT was fantastic. They were able to put us in touch with the right people to help us liaise with the Indian authorities and facilitate the appropriate documentation to enable us to re-start the export of our products to India.”

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Exports to EU fall to lowest level in 11 years as imports continue to rise

Trade woes for UK businesses in the face of Brexit are continuing into 2022 as exports to the EU fall to their lowest level since 2011. 

Data newly released from Eurostat shows how EU importance from the UK fell by 16.4% over a two-year period. In start contrast, imports by the EU from non-EU countries rose by 30% over the same period. 

The heightening trade imbalance is due to a number of factors, including the UK’s departure from the EU. But Covid-19 also had and continues to play a big factor. Eurostat’s report notes that ‘the COVID-19 crisis caused both exports and imports between the EU and the United Kingdom to fall in 2020. Imports reached a minimum of € 7.5 billion in January 2021. By December 2021 they had recovered to € 13.5 billion. Exports reached a minimum of € 14.8 billion in April 2020. By December 2021 they had recovered to € 24.8 billion’.

Despite the fall in UK exports into the EU, last year the United Kingdom was still the second-largest partner for EU exports of goods, and the fourth largest partner for UK imports of goods. 

The UK’s trade deficit has been growing weaker across the board, with data from the Office of National Statistics showing the difference between goods and services imported rose to its highest level since 1997, rising to £51.7bn in Q1 this year. 

Read more: ‘Same nightmare week after week’ for UK exporters

However, economists from both Eurostat and the ONS have noted that the latest data should be treated with some caution due to a change in methodology. 

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‘Same nightmare week after week’ for UK exporters

UK businesses are continuing to struggle with post-Brexit trading rules as export bosses warn that life outside the EU is becoming a ‘nightmare’ as fears grow that the Northern Ireland protocol could lead to a trade war with Brussels. 

Exporting firms have warned that costs and red tape have seen doing business with the EU become more difficult, cut into margins and take too long. 

One such exporter, Mark Brearley of kitchen equipment firm Kaymet, said to The Guardian that: “There’s a sense of, ‘Oh God, here we go again.

“There are loads of things I could’ve been doing if it wasn’t for these problems. We could do things that take us forward, rather than back.”

Owner of men’s fashion brand Rivet & Hide shared his own thoughts, adding that: “It’s really frustrating. I hear Johnson boasting about free trade and all the rest of it.

“I don’t know how he’s got the brass neck to talk about us doing free trade when basically he’s the one who’s imposed sanctions on our business.

“We were freely trading with the EU and now we’ve had tariffs imposed on us through our Brexit deals.”

Since 2019, key export categories including clothing, fruit and veg, cars, livestock and fish have all seen large decrease, with total exports down 8.3%. 

However, there are signs that UK firms are beginning to look further afield to grow their international sales. 

Data from the Food and Drink Federation found that exports to non-EU countries rose 16.2% in the first three months of the year, almost 11% higher than in Q1 2019. 

Read more: Rise in non-EU food and drink exports for UK firms

Total non-EU exports of food and drink are now worth a record £2.3bn, with sales to Australia, Canada, India, Japan and the US showing the most growth. Beef exports rose 80%, with whiskey, chocolate and gin also seeing sustained growth. 

Whilst food and drink exports to the EU still remain higher at £3bn, the rise in sales further afield may be a sign that UK firms are starting to broaden their horizons in the wake of Brexit. 

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Rise in non-EU food and drink exports for UK firms

Exports of food and drink products by UK exporters have risen above pre-pandemic levels. 

Data from the Food and Drink Federation found that exports to non-EU countries rose 16.2% in the first three months of the year, almost 11% higher than in Q1 2019. 

Total non-EU exports of food and drink are now worth a record £2.3bn, with sales to Australia, Canada, India, Japan and the US showing the most growth. Beef exports rose 80%, with whiskey, chocolate and gin also seeing sustained growth. 

Whilst food and drink exports to the EU still remain higher at £3bn, the rise in sales further afield may be a sign that UK firms are starting to broaden their horizons in the wake of Brexit. 

The FDF predicts that further growth is on the cards, with the UK-Japan trade agreement already signed and new deals with Australia and New Zealand on the cards. 

Read more: 5 ways the crisis in Ukraine is impacting international trade

Association director of the FDF, Nicola Thomas, noted that: “Such strong growth highlights how with widespread economic and political instability around the world, a renewed focus on exporting is a crucial risk-mitigation strategy for UK Food and Drink companies in 2022.”

EU still a major market

Despite Brexit, the EU trading bloc remains a core and critical market for many exporting firms, and the pandemic, war in Ukraine and the UK’s departure from the European Union have caused massive upheaval for import/export businesses. 

We’ve created a free checklist you can download to help navigate the choppy post-Brexit waters – ideal if your organisation has limited experience with customs declarations, licenses, VAT on imports or rules of origin. 

Get your free copy here.

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How to ensure your website attracts an international audience

Competition for search engine rankings has never been tougher, and even trying to get noticed in your home country can be a challenge. But what if your target audiences are in various territories?

International digital marketing is becoming an increasingly sought-after requirement for businesses new and established as globalisation and online shopping has made it easier than ever to buy or source products and services from anywhere in the world. 

And if your business is trying to attract customers from more than one country, here are some key considerations to ensure your website is visible in all the territories that matter to you. 

Pick the right domain 

First thing first is to make sure your domain name itself is geared towards ranking in different countries. 

Most websites with a local target will have a top-level domain that ends with a specific country code. For example, an Irish website will end .ie, a German site .de, and a UK site .co.uk. 

These TLDs tell search engines which country your site should rank in. But as a result, it means that websites with these localised TLDs can struggle to appear in search results within other international markets. 

It’s not impossible. For example, an Irish hostel with a .ie TLD will still appear to someone searching in Germany for a hostel to stay at in Galway or Dublin. 

But to really penetrate into a new market, your best bet will be to acquire a .com domain. 

The right language

Offering a selection of language options on your website not only builds trust and increases conversion rates, it also helps increase your website’s visibility in target countries. 

For example, if your website is in English but your target audience in Itay search Google in Italian, then your website pages won’t match up to what they’re searching. And if they don’t match up, they won’t rank. 

Translating your entire website is just one consideration here though – you also need to ensure that your translated pages render on a specific, indexable URL. This will mean that search engines can crawl and then index the translated versions of all your pages, and then show them in international search results. 

Another option is to offer different websites to target different zones, and have these websites already translated into the native language of that country. This is something that GORR, an international translation company has done. They have four websites, one in English, Czech, Slovenian and German. All these websites rank well, and because they appear to be localised websites to users, they convert well too!

An international backlink portfolio

The final step is to consider your website’s backlinks. Backlinks online work like word-of-mouth offline. It’s Google’s way of assessing if your website is trustworthy and should rank highly in search results. Because, if 10 websites are linking to yours, but only one website is linking to your competitor, then your website must be more trustworthy and have the best content. 

Linkbuilding in your home country is hard enough, but when it comes to international search engine optimisation, you also need to consider generating links from your target countries. 

So, if your website is geared to an international audience, but 90% of your backlink portfolio is from just the UK, then you should rank well in the UK. But, there isn’t enough international link clout there to convince a search engine that your website is also popular in another country. 

Read more: 10-point international marketing checklist

An effective way around this is to create a list of international competitors in your chosen territories and analyse their backlinks. A native Spanish competitor should have a backlink portfolio filled with all the Spain-based website links you need to start ranking well there, and you can analyse their best ones and look to replicate them!

Leave it to the experts

Here at Go Exporting, we’ve worked with numerous international businesses to get ranking internationally – and generate leads and sales too. 

Through international SEO, cross-border PPC and a range of other integrated digital marketing techniques, we can get your brand known in the territories that matter most to you. 

Learn more about our international digital marketing services here

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UK chasing ‘mini trade deals’ with individual US States

The UK is close to signing mini trade deals with six individual US states. 

Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, UK trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan revealed the likely deals were memorandums of understanding covering areas including mutual recognition of professional qualifications and improved access to procurement contracts. 

Some of the states in question include Indiana and Texas, with the former being an important potential partner for the UK as it’s one of the largest US exporters of maize, soya beans and tomatoes. Other states that the UK has been in talks with include California, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and South Carolina. 

Trevelyan said in her interview that: “The US big-picture deal is important and we’ll get there when the White House has the view that they have got their domestic situation [under control], and they want to look out again.

She added: “In the meantime, there’s loads that businesses would like us to try and sort out in terms of market access barriers.

“State-by-state we are doing all sorts. “We’ve got some really good discussions going on. Watch this space.”

Read more: ‘Don’t take UK exporters for granted’ warning as trade deficit widens

The ‘domestic situation’ Trevelyan refers to is in the main the Northern Ireland protocol for which President Biden has been outspoken. Increased efforts have been seen over the last couple of weeks to find a resolution, and those on the US side of politics believe trade issues relating to the protocol can be fixed, with US congressman Richard Neal commenting: “I have on this delegation people who are experts at trade and they also would confirm that they think these issues on the trade front, if that’s really the dispute, could be ironed out quickly.”

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‘Don’t take UK exporters for granted’ warning as trade deficit widens

With the latest set of data showing the UK’s trade deficit has widened in March, experts are warning that local exporters shouldn’t be taken for granted as international trade networks come under strain. 

The number of exporting firms in the UK dropped by 3% in March, with the number of employees working in export-related jobs also falling by 5.5%. 

Total export revenues also fell by almost 4%, with Wales seeing the biggest decline. 

The big-picture data isn’t too much better either with the UK’s trade deficit rising by almost £15bn to £25.2bn in Q1 2022 with imports rising 10%. 

However, HMRC has urged caution on analysing the data and applying it to the business world as it has recently changed its methodology for collecting trade data. It’s also worth taking into consideration that this data set is the first since UK sanctions on Russia began in late February and March. 

Commenting on the latest results, director-general of the Institute of Export & International Trade, Marco Forgione, noted: “The message is simple, don’t take UK exporters for granted. They rely on their international networks for their trade – and those networks are under severe strain.”

Read more: UK SMEs seeing core EU markets vanish

He continued: “While the supply chain crisis continues, the Russian invasion of Ukraine adds uncertainty to an already complex trading picture. Relationships are fragile and UK exporters need help, support and guidance to get them through these difficult times.

“We reiterate our commitment to supporting businesses of all sizes through these turbulent times. Education is an essential tool to ensure UK exporters have the expertise to trade effectively, sustainability and competitively.”

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UK SMEs seeing core EU markets vanish

The UK’s small and medium-sized businesses are seeing their EU markets disappear as they struggle to combat increased post-Brexit red tape and trading costs. 

At the same time, EU businesses exporting into the UK market are benefiting from a lack of controls. 

In an interview given to The Loadstar, one small business owner said that: “EU warehousing is the only way to get around costs and bureaucracy – it also means jobs and money go abroad – but if you’re small it’s not viable.

“Before Brexit, a third of our direct mail orders were in the EU. That went to nothing and we are slowly having to build it back up, but this means charging our direct mail orders from the EU half the price, with us covering the VAT.”

And those increased costs, or indeed reducing prices and swallowing taxes to remain competitive, have seen many businesses fail. In fact, between 2020 and 2021, 6.5% of UK businesses closed – the largest decline in 20 years. The pandemic had a hand to play in that of course, but many SMEs have directly blamed the departure from the EU as shutting off a core market. 

Read more: 5 ways the crisis in Ukraine is impacting international trade

As the interviewee to Loadstar pointed out: “The increased cost of transport means that for our product, the cost has increased three to four times. Then there are the cultural differences; we are simply not going to sell many jazz records in Indonesia or Thailand, and you have to take into account the poverty gap with these new global markets – Europe is rich, while Asia, Africa, South America are poor.

“SMEs can’t wait 30 years for a vague ‘levelling-up’ promise. That’s OK for the likes of Shell, ICI, Unilever, GM, but not for us.”

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