FREE GUIDE: Finding international agents & distributors, the benefits & pitfalls

All change again: UK Gov updates plan for goods checks

The UK government has published its updated plan for checks on goods crossing the UK Border. 

This new Target Operating Model will now introduce import checks at the UK Border on ALL goods, as well as begin the introduction of a Single Trade Window together with the planned end of CHIEF in November 2023.

The new Border Operating Model will be digitally driven through the proposed ‘Single Trade Window’- a one-stop electronic portal, which aims to ease and speed up the customs process, and will give greater granularity for the monitoring and detection and enforcement of non-compliant activities.

So what is going to happen?

  1. All imports will be checked at the Border by Border Force/HMRC for compliance
  2. New ‘Sanitary & Phytosanitary (SPS)’ controls will be enforced especially on food products
  3. Additional Safety & Security controls on imports
  4. Controls are expected to start in October 2023
  5. New risk-based border processes will come into effect
  6. Changeover from CHIEF to CDS for exports will take place

What does this mean for you?

There is little detail is available on what the new processes are going to be, but it will cause some supply chain disruption- especially in agrifoods and food products

Based on experience you can expect delays in receiving or sending goods due to:

  • Border congestion
  • Pre-notification requirements of certain goods
  • Full physical inspections
  • Incorrect documentation 
  • HMRC computer system outages
  • Lock in any prices now before the cost effects of the import controls impact bite

What should you do?

  • Make sure you have enough stock to ride out a month of disruption
  • Plan any shipments for either before October or after October
  • Ensure shipping documents are complete with the right commodity code, certificates, and licences 
  • Keep your import and export records up to date

Expected timeline

31 October 2023 

– Export health certificates and phytosanitary certificates are to be introduced for medium risk animal products, plant, and plant products imported to GB from the EU.

End of 2023

Permanent waivers introduced from the requirement to submit Safety and Security declarations on certain categories of low-risk movements – fish which have been caught in UK territorial seas and landed outside of the UK, outbound transit and certain outbound freeport goods.

31 January 2024

-Documentary checks and physical and identity checks at the border are introduced for medium-risk animal products, plant and plant products imported to GB from the EU. 

The global model of controls is introduced for rest of the world imports, Health certificates will no longer be required for low-risk goods and pre-notification will no longer be required for low risk plant and plant products.

31 October 2024 

– Safety and Security declarations are required for EU imports. Alongside this, use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication across pre-arrival datasets where possible.

Confused? Then reach out for help

Go Exporting provides customs and compliance advice to clients in the UK and around the world. We answer your urgent questions or provide a complete analysis culminating in a step-by-step procedure for you to follow which ensures your products move from country to country with the minimum of fuss and duties.

Learn more about how we can support your business here.

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UK exporters optimistic on benefits of Aus, NZ agreements as trade deals come into effect

UK exporters are getting ready to enjoy the benefits of the UK’s new trading arrangement with Australia and New Zealand. 

The first brand new free trade deals sealed by the UK government following Brexit, the agreements with both nations will see tariffs removed on thousands of goods as well as enhanced access for UK service providers to do business in the respective countries. 

Following some final regulatory tweaking, it’s expected that both trade deals will go live at midnight on 31st May. 

Both deals are expected to increase long-term bilateral traded by up to 59% whilst also enhancing investment opportunities and access to government contracts, producing tariff-free access to both markets for all British goods, flexibility on rules of origin, removal of UK import tariffs on the majority of goods from Australia and New Zealand, and more opportunities for UK professionals to work in both nations. 

Read more: UK to join £11 trillion CPTPP trading bloc

Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said on the deals’ impending launches that: “With these two deals the UK is using our status as an independent trading nation to tailor agreements to our country’s economic strengths. Alongside our recent conclusion of talks to join CPTPP, the government is forging a bold new future alongside the world’s most dynamic and fast-growing economies.

“Putting these trade deals into action will help create new opportunities for business, boosting wages and helping spur economic growth.”

UK exporters confident of future benefits

A small poll of 200 business leaders in the UK by the Institute of Export & International Trade found that 95% were confident they’d be able to benefit from both trade deals with nearly eight in 10 noting that reduced tariffs was a huge benefit. 

However, half said that the biggest potential stumbling block will likely be the distance between the trading nations, whilst a lack of market knowledge of Australia, in particular, could be a hurdle. 

If your business is looking to benefit from the new free trading agreements with Australia and New Zealand but aren’t sure where to start, then Go Exporting can help. 

We can help to assess the global market potential for your company and products and pinpoint specific nations where the potential demand is highest. 

Learn more about how we can help you make the right market entry decisions with the clarity of real market information here

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50% of revenue for UK exporters comes from overseas but one in four still aren’t trading abroad

Fresh data from Alibaba in partnership with the Institute of Export & International Trade has shone a light on just how powerful exports can be for UK businesses. 

Their new report entitled ‘The UK Opportunity Report – Global Horizons: helping UK businesses grow through international trade’ quizzed 3,000 UK businesses to uncover just how powerful international trade has been for them. 

Businesses already exporting, some three-quarters, said that export sales accounted for 49% of their total revenues with 82% of all responders saying exports had increased company revenues – 97% for enterprise-level firms, and still a healthy 68% for micro businesses. 

And the benefits of exporting aren’t just revenue related. The report also found that 79% of firms viewed international trade has helped to ease the pressure of doing business in the UK with a similar number saying exports had made their business stronger and more resilient. 

Eight in 10 said exporting was critical to their future plans. 

Download now: 7 Key Changes to UK-EU Trade Post-Brexit

Alibaba’s Roland Palmer noted that: “International trade is widely recognised as a key driver of growth, benefitting businesses that export and the UK economy. 

“Furthermore, the UK’s recent economic challenges underline the importance of advancing prosperity by accessing new markets and customers.”

One in four UK firms missing out on export benefits 

The report by Alibaba and IOE&IT also highlighted how 25% of UK businesses are still yet to start exporting, despite the wide-ranging benefits of doing so. 

Some of the complexities surrounding starting to trade abroad for the first time can be a big stumbling block for smaller firms, especially in the wake of Brexit. 

If your business would like to explore the benefits of exporting for the first time but aren’t sure where to start, then Go Exporting can help. 

Our international trade consultancy services helps you to plan and prepare for your export journey. But before that, we can help you undertake an export readiness evaluation to assess and prepare you to start your global expansion plans. 

Learn more and get in touch here

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How to effectively expand your distributor network

Spring is in the air in the Northern Hemisphere and many companies’ thoughts are turning towards expanding into new international markets. One of the key decisions you need to consider is your route-to-market strategy. How are you going to reach the market? How will you carve out a market share? 

Often the easiest way to enter a market appears to be through a local distributor or agent. This is a low-risk strategy on the face of it, certainly from a fixed-cost perspective. But how do you find the right distributor or agent in your target market? 

This is a question we are often asked by clients, so have produced a new free guide, available to download from our website.

Download now: How to find a distributor

There are a number of ways to start your search. Choosing the right distributor or agent is critical. Get this wrong and it can severely disrupt your progress in the market. 

The first step is to define your ideal partner profile. What type of partner or distributor are you looking for? What is the ideal size of company? Which market sectors do they operate in? Which complementary products will they be selling? What resources do they need to have to be able to best promote your products or service? Any specific experience or technical knowledge they require? And so on. List all the factors that are important to you in your new partner or distributor. 

Only when you know what you are looking for, will you know when you have found the right one!

Once you have defined your ideal distributor, the next step is to research the businesses which fit your profile. There are a number of ways to do this which we explore in the guide. It is important to take your time. Draw up a list of possible companies, then review them more deeply for suitability to refine your list to the most likely candidates. 

You are now in a position to start contacting your dream list of potential distributors, to evaluate their interest in working with you too.  Be persistent. They may not respond to your first contact but keep going until they do. Whether that response is positive or negative, it helps to narrow down your search. 

Approach them with details of your product or service and shorten the list to those who show the most interest, combined with required market presence and potential.

Do not rush in, take your time to assess potential candidates, talk to more than one. Visit them, get a feel for the company, who their customers are. Do they really specialise in your market sector? 

It is very important to choose carefully. This distributor will be the face of your company in the market. You may well be judged by who you are associated with. Make sure they have a good solid reputation and a long-standing interest in your market.

Also look at their existing portfolio of products or services. Who do they already represent? Are they complimentary or competing? Are they operating in the right market sector? Do they appear to have a lot of products already for the resources at their disposal? Is this a concern?

A well-connected representative can be worth their weight in gold in helping you make entry into the market. With the right connections they can FastTrack you in front of the right customers but beware those who promise amazing things when in reality they are either already fully committed, not in the right market space or have conflicts of interest. It is not unheard of for a supplier to be tied up for years with a distributor who either cannot, or deliberately does not, market it aggressively. Be wary of those who profess to be well-connected or related to the Prince or Government Minister.

Once you have narrowed it down to one or two potential companies, suggest a loose working relationship to start with until you are both sure you are a good fit. See if they produce the goods, open the right doors and hopefully secure some orders before rushing in to an exclusive or long-term contract. 

Set clear expectations from the beginning and agree key performance indicators. Assess their actual performance over at least 3-6 months before formalising the relationship. Take the time to build mutual trust, you are looking for a long-term partner, not a quick buck. 

When you do enter into a formal or exclusive contract, make sure the basics are right so there are no conflicts later on. In the guide we explore the essential elements of a distributor contract. 

Download now: How to find a distributor

Make sure any exclusive contract is mutually exclusive! You don’t want your distributor or agent representing a competitor also. 

Remember making the right choice is critical to the success of your market entry strategy. Finding the right distributor can be a complicated and time-consuming process requiring experience and expertise to complete effectively.  

For this reason we developed our PartnerTrack service where we help you define your ideal partner, carry out the search, evaluate and approach potential partners to help you select the right one(s) for your business. 

PartnerTrack is a cost-effective way of starting your export journey to profits in your new target market.  For further information and a no-obligation discussion, please contact us today.

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UK to join £11 trillion CPTPP trading bloc

The UK has signed its most significant trade agreement since leaving the EU by joining the Indo-Pacific trading bloc. 

The deal, which took two years of negotiations to strike, will unlock access to a region worth £11 trillion a year.

UK firms will now have increased access to markets including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, and Singapore, with tariffs on food, drink and car exports expected to be cut. 

The value to the UK economy is expected to be £1.8bn – still far below the economic cost of leaving the EU. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said of the deal that: “We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms. As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.

“Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the centre of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies, as the first new nation and first European country to join. British businesses will now enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific.”

Read more: UK food and drink exports exceed pre-pandemic levels

The deal has been welcomed by business leaders, with CBI director general Matthew Fell noting: “Joining CPTPP is a real milestone for the UK and for British industry. Not only does the agreement provide greater access to a group of fast growth economies representing 14% of global GDP and over 500 million consumers, but membership reinforces the UK’s commitment to building partnerships in an increasingly fragmented world.

“CPTPP countries and business need to work together to future proof the rules-based trading system and stimulate growth with a focus on digital, services and resilient supply chains.”

The deal comes as UK officials are hopeful that a new agreement reached with the EU over trade provisions for Northern Ireland may help unlock trade negotiations with the USA – something two presidents have put on hold until the fallout from Brexit was solved.

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Could the Windsor Framework be about to implode?!

Anyone trading with or from Northern Ireland since Brexit will be aware of the increased difficulties and effective border down the Irish Sea. It’s an issue which has been a constant bone of contention, especially with Northern Ireland politicians, leading to the collapse of the Stormont Assembly after the DUP withdrew. 

Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission announced the so-called Windsor Framework on 27th February, hailed as the solution to the issues and a victory for common sense. But what does it mean for international trade? Will it actually improve the situation for UK-NI traders without closing the border between NI and the EU?

One of the key wins is the Green Lane/Red Lane idea where goods from the rest of the UK destined for Northern Ireland will follow a Green Lane, with a separate Red Lane for goods destined for or at risk of ending up in the EU. It has been publicised as if the Green Lane will have virtually no paperwork and movement of goods to NI will be like before Brexit. 

As ever the devil is in the detail. There will in fact still be paperwork requirements for traders, albeit at a significantly reduced level. There will still be around 25 datapoints required. This is not being called a Customs Declaration, but some would argue in effect that is what it will be. Goods in the Green Lane will not be subject to systematic checks, though the facility for spot checks is there. 

Parcels will not be subject to full customs declarations but from 2024 the parcel operators will be required to share data with the EU to manage smuggling risks. 

Current bans on certain products like chilled sausages entering Northern Ireland as a result of EU law will be lifted, meaning anything available in UK supermarkets will once again be available in Northern Ireland. New labelling arrangements will come into force for some goods. UK VAT and Excise Duties will once again apply in Northern Ireland for alcoholic drinks for immediate consumption.

Northern Ireland retailers will have to qualify as trusted traders to benefit from the reduced paperwork, however. Rishi Sunak explains:

“It means food retailers like supermarkets, restaurants and wholesalers will no longer need hundreds of certificates for every lorry,” Sunak said. “If food is available on supermarket shelves in Great Britain, then it will be available on supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland.”

Personal, online shopping and business-to-business parcels sent from Britain into Northern Ireland “will have to complete no customs paperwork”, he said.

Download now: Checklist for exporting from the EU to the UK post-Brexit

Bans on seed potatoes and 11 types of native UK trees will also be lifted. Medicines approved in the UK will automatically be available in Northern Ireland. This is a major boost for pharmaceutical companies in the UK and the NHS.

Goods moving from NI to the rest of the UK will not require paperwork. 

On the face of it, this is a good agreement for Northern Ireland, keeping its foot in both the UK and EU with it seems the minimum of bureaucracy. Yet could all be about to implode? 

A key element of the framework is the so-called Stormont Break, designed to give the Northern Ireland Assembly a say on how EU laws are applied in Northern Ireland. It can effectively put a brake on new laws being implemented. 

Read more: New Northern Ireland framework could unlock US trade deal

The DUP has indicated that it will oppose this element of the framework in a House of Commons vote on 22nd March 2023. If they do, then the future of the overall agreement could be in doubt. The bill will still pass on Wednesday as it has Labour support, but ultimately the DUP must be convinced in order to restart the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland which has failed to sit for over a year.

Watch this space!

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UK service exports reach record levels

New data from the Office for National Statistics has found UK service exports have grown to their highest-ever levels. 

Sales grew by 20% compared to 2021 – and up 23% against 2018 – to £400 billion last year. 

The UK sits behind only the US as the biggest services exporter globally with the sector contributing some 80% to the UK’s total GDP. 

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said of the latest figures that: “These new figures are a trade success story and cement the UK’s position as a global services superpower.

“Services are the lifeblood of our economy, employing over 8 in 10 of our workforce. To see services trade reaching these heights is a firm reminder of the resilience of our strong services economy and shows significant progress in our race to export over a trillion pounds of British goods and services a year by 2030.

“I’ll be using my talks with Mexican politicians and UK businesses operating in Mexico to make the case for a revamped UK-Mexico trade deal which will significantly increase export opportunities, and boost jobs around the UK.”

Read more: New Northern Ireland Protocol could unlock US trade deal

The new Windsor Framework agreed between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen could open even more avenues for UK firms to prosper. 

The new policy for managing trade between the UK and NI, and then NI to the EU, could unlock negotiations with the US over a mega trade deal. Meanwhile, threats to the Good Friday Agreement had put the brakes on the UK’s efforts to join the CPTPP trading bloc, something which now looks more likely.

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UK food and drink exports exceed pre-pandemic levels

The global appetite for UK food and drink has continued to grow despite pandemic and post-Brexit pressures. 

New data from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has shown how food and drink exports have now surged past pre-pandemic levels to stand at a record £24.8bn with chocolate and cheese exports proving ever-popular. 

Over half of all food and drink exports went to Europe where sales actually rose 22% to £13.7bn. New emerging partners like Vietnam have also seen double demand, whilst sales to non-EU countries broke the £10bn value barrier for the first time. 

And high demand has been seen across almost all categories, highlighting a general trend towards UK produce – and not just high-demand brands. 

Dominic Goudie of the FDF commented: “UK food and drink continues to be recognised around the globe for its high quality, safety, and sustainability credentials, with demand as strong as ever across the EU and at record levels in developing markets.

“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, dynamic trade is vital if our sector is to deliver the robust growth we’d like it to in the coming months and years, benefitting communities in every part of the UK.”

Read more: Free Webinar: Exporting to Ireland

“Imports are essential for the success of our sector, adding value to UK produce while ensuring consistent availability and value for shoppers.

“There also remain substantial opportunities to deliver further export growth, but this will require the government to use all the trade policy levers at its disposal in support of the food and drink sector, to ensure that our producers can access competitively priced ingredients and sell into the fastest-growing markets.”

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Brexit deal scuppering SME growth plans

The Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) between the UK and EU in the wake of Brexit is delivering more headaches than benefits for the majority of exporting SMEs. 

That’s according to data collected in December last year by the British Chambers of Commerce from almost 1,200 surveyed businesses. 

The survey found that almost eight in 10 firms had found the Brexit deal was not helpful in their drive to increase sales or grow their business overall, whilst more than half continue to face difficulties adapting to the new rules for trading goods. 

Download now: 7 key changes to UK-EU trade post-Brexit

Meanwhile, 45% of service businesses said they’re still trying to adapt, whilst over four in 10 said they’re finding it difficult to obtain visas for new staff. 

These difficulties are directly translating into business performance too. 

The survey also found that 80% of firms are seeing the cost of importing increase, whilst more than half have seen their margins cut. Three-quarters of manufacturers also said they’d had issues with shortages too. 

One manufacturer commented on their experience that: “Brexit has been the biggest ever imposition of bureaucracy on business. 

“Simple importing of parts to fix broken machines or raw materials from the EU have become a major time-consuming nightmare for small businesses, and Brexit-related logistics delays are a massive cost when machines are stood waiting for parts. We used to export lesser amounts to the EU, but the bureaucracy makes it no longer worthwhile.”

To help alleviate some of the issues UK businesses are facing, the British Chamber suggested five fixes that the government should look to introduce:

  • Create a  supplementary deal with the EU that either eliminates or reduces the complexity of exporting food for SMEs.        
  • Establish a supplementary deal, like Norway’s, that exempts smaller firms from the requirement to have a fiscal representative for VAT in the EU 
  • Allow CE-marked goods and components to continue to be used in Great Britain after 2024. 
  • Make side deals with the EU and member states to allow UK firms to travel for longer and work in Europe. 
  • Reach an agreement on the future of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland with      the European Commission in the early months of 2023, to stabilise our trading relationship.

If your business is suffering as a result of Brexit, combined with current global economic headwinds, then Go Exporting can help. 

Our international trade consultancy helps businesses of all sizes to expand into new markets, from research and strategy to full export implementation and sales generation. 

Learn more about how we can support your company here.   

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Economic headwinds hampering growth for SME exporters

New data has highlighted how a range of global economic factors are hampering growth efforts for small and medium-sized exporters. 

Data from more than 2,300 UK SMEs as part of the British Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly Trade Confidence Outlook for Q4 found that just one in four had seen international sales growth at the backend of 2022, with a further 47% saying sales had stagnated if not fallen. 

The picture for 2023 looks equally stagnant too with 28% expecting a sales slump against 24% saying they could see an increase in demand. 

Total revenues are expected to rise though as cost pressures and shrinking margins mean 64% of respondents are planning to increase pricing over the coming months. 

Difficult business environment

Consumers and businesses alike have struggled in the post-pandemic era to really kick on once more with the cost of living, inflation and economic headwinds driven by the war in Ukraine contributing to a trading environment some are finding more difficult than during the lockdowns. 

Additional factors such as Brexit have made it tougher, and more expensive, for UK firms in particular to access the EU market. 

Respondents to the BCC survey noted that energy (72%), labour (67%) and raw materials (61%) were the biggest cost pressures being faced – three critical areas that it’s hard to mitigate against. 

Head of policy at the Chamber, Willian Bain, said of the survey results that: “Last autumn the World Trade Organisation forecast global trade growth of just 1% in 2023, down from 3% in 2022. This is creating huge headwinds for smaller UK firms battered by the pandemic, Brexit and energy price shocks. 

“Against this background, it could be some time before the global shipping and trading systems return to anything approaching normality. 

“The UK government cannot afford to sit idly by as we head into such uncertain trading conditions. It must throw a lifeline to our struggling exporters who are desperately trying to keep their heads above water.”

Download now: 7 key changes to UK-EU trade post-Brexit

Bain continued: “Outside of the EU, the US is our biggest trading partner, and the one that BCC members are most interested in, yet progress on free trade talks are stalled. As the Good Friday Agreement anniversary looms the UK has a golden opportunity to transform our trading relationship with our two biggest export markets in one fell swoop. 

“Other measures Government should consider include providing effective end-to-end trade finance and setting up a trade accelerator – by working alongside our global network to help firms enter new markets and maximise sales.” 

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