Watch: Webinar exploring the export potential of Switzerland

This month we partnered with Prodigo to deliver a specialist webinar exploring the export potential of Switzerland.

Often overlooked as a viable opportunity, the webinar examines the current business dynamics in the country, current trade relations with the UK, opportunities for British companies and how to approach potential Swiss partners.

Watch the webinar in full below:

If you’re looking to expand export activity into more EU nations, a good place to start is by making sure you’re up to speed with post-Brexit customs declarations, licenses, VAT on import and rules of origin.

Find out more in our free post-Brexit planning checklist here.

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BCC: Worker shortage down to Government’s lack of Brexit business planning

The British Chambers of Commerce has called out the Government for lacking Brexit business planning, resulting in UK workforce shortages. 

After a weekend of fuel supply shortages and retailer Christmans warnings, the BCC made clear in a statement that businesses were suffering the consequences from excluding non-UK nationals from the UK workforce. 

BCC President, Baroness Ruby McGregor Smith said that: “Government has made clear its priority is to transition from a reliance on EU workers to a focus on the domestic workforce, and businesses have been ready to participate in this, but it is a long-term project.

“A managed transition, with a plan agreed between government and business, should have been in place from the outset. Instead, the supply of EU labour was turned off with no clear roadmap as to how this transition would be managed without disruption to services and supply chains.

“Now some action has been taken, but additional testing will take time and the low number of visas offered is insufficient. Even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum amount of people allowed under the scheme, it will not be enough to address the scale of the problem that has now developed in our supply chains. This announcement is the equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.

“Government should be prepared to significantly expand the number of visas issued within this scheme and convene a summit that brings business and government together to find both immediate and longer-term solutions to the many challenges facing firms throughout the UK.

“Without further action, we now face the very real prospect of serious damage to our economic recovery, stifled growth as well as another less than happy Christmas for many businesses and their customers across the country.”

Read more: Complex Rules of Origin add £600m to duty costs

BCC Co-Executive Director Hannah Essex added that: “Chambers of Commerce have been warning Government about critical labour shortages for months now – not just in the food and haulage industries but in hospitality, construction, the care sector and elsewhere in the economy. Whilst businesses will welcome that government is finally taking action, this scheme does not go far enough.

“BCC data has shown that 76% of hospitality businesses, and 82% of construction firms have faced recruitment difficulties in recent months. At the same time, we found 3 out of 4 exporters reporting no growth in sales in Q2.

“Businesses are facing the most difficult environment for a generation. On top of labour shortages – border delays, increased debt and the rising cost of materials, shipping and energy are all putting huge pressure on firms struggling to recover from the pandemic. All of these issues are hitting smaller firms the hardest.

“Attempts to address the deficit of HGV drivers and poultry workers is a step forward, but these industries are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the huge impact of the current labour shortages. Without a comprehensive plan to tackle this issue across the board we are facing a winter of lost opportunities for our businesses, hampering the UK’s economic recovery.”

If your business is still coming to terms with a post-Brexit trading environment, we can help. Our Brexit FastTrack service can quickly and affordably assess the threats to your businesses and help shine a light on the pathway forward for your organisation. Find out more here.

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Fasttrack to $1m in export sales (webinar with Alibaba)

This month we joined Alibaba to host a webinar, supporting their client-base to grow their export sales.

The webinar was centred on our 7-steps to export success guide (which you can download here).

Watch the webinar in full below:

Make sure you check out Alibaba’s great business support content here.

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Quarter of all full-time UK jobs supported by export activity

A report published this month has highlighted just how vital exporting is in supporting quality jobs. 

The assessment report on jobs, published from the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde, found that 23% of all UK full-time jobs in 2016 were supported by exports. 

Of those FTE jobs supported by exporting activity, 58% were directly related whilst 42% were involved in supply chains of exporting industries. 

The report also found that manufacturing made up the bulk of export-related jobs. Trade with the US accounted for the largest number of supported jobs at 1.3 million, whilst EU export activity occupied 2.8 million FTE workers. 

The release of this report coincided with new findings from the government’s Board of Trade report, finding that during 2016, exports supported 6.5 million jobs in the UK – paying on average 7% more than the national median wage. 

Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, said in her foreword for the report that: “For the first time in almost 50 years, the UK is in control of its own trade policy and we have renewed this centuries-old institution (Board of Trade) to bring together leaders in business, academia and government.

“As a nation, we have not been in a position to steer our own trade debate for generations. Now we can and I believe the Board will play a crucial role in this vital discussion.”

Read more: New Gov campaign to support UK producers export food and drink internationally

“We have a great story to tell as a trading nation, and now as we set out into our future as an independent country with the whole world as its marketplace, we will champion values-driven free trade as a force for good in the world and a driver of prosperity for every part of the United Kingdom.”

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Half of UK exporters struggling to adapt to Brexit changes

A major report from the British Chambers of Commerce has found that 49% of UK exporters are facing difficulties adapting to new Brexit regulations around the trading of goods. 

The survey of 1,000 firms, the majority of which were SMEs, found that firms are struggling with the changes following the ratification of the UK_EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. 

Key results from the survey included 30% of respondents reporting difficulties adapting to changes in moving or trading goods in the first month of the year. Only 10% said they’d found adapting easy, with another 16% saying it was too early to say (the survey was conducted between 18th and 31st January). 

In total, 49% of businesses and 51% of manufacturers reported struggles with increased admin, costs, delays and confusion over the rules and which to follow proving the most common difficulties.

Adam Marshall, BCC director-general, said of the survey results that: “Trading businesses – and the UK’s chances at a strong economic recovery – are being hit hard by changes at the border.

“The late agreement of a UK-EU trade deal left businesses in the dark on the detail right until the last minute, so it’s unsurprising to see that so many businesses are now experiencing practical difficulties on the ground as the new arrangements go live.

“For some firms, these concerns are existential, and go well beyond mere ‘teething problems’. It should not be the case that companies simply have to give up on selling their goods and services into the EU. Ministers must do everything they can to fix the problems that are within the UK’s own control, and increase their outreach to EU counterparts to solve the knotty issues that are stifling trade in both directions.

Read more: Free webinar on exporting goods & services to the EU at Emerging Tech Fest

“This situation could get worse if the UK sticks to its guns and introduces additional SPS checks in April and full customs checks on imports in July. These timescales need to change – and the support available for businesses who are battling to adapt to new trading conditions significantly increased.”

SMEs grants for expert support

To help small firms adapt to the new trading relationship with the EU, many are now eligible for grants of up to £2,000 to help cover the cost of training and professional advice as part of the £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund.

If your business is still working to adapt and change to the new trading relationship with the EU, we can help. Our Brexit FastTrack service can deliver a detailed review of your business post-Brexit to resolve the issues you are encountering. 

Learn more here.

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SMEs can now apply for grants to cover the cost of professional export consultancy

Small and medium-sized businesses in the UK can now apply for grants of up to £2,000 to help cover the cost of training and professional advice in relation to Brexit. 

The new £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund, announced by Michael Gove last week, will help SMEs adjust to new customs, rules of origin and VAT rules when trading with the EU.

The grants, worth up to £2,000 per trader, are relevant to EU-only exporters who won’t be up to speed with the customs regulations associated with global trade. 

National Chair at the Federation of Small Business, Mike Cherry, said of the new grant that: “Today’s announcement is very significant. Small businesses, often with few cash reserves, are for the first time facing complex new customs processes, VAT requirements and rules of origin. 

“While many have come to FSB for help, we have been asking for proper financial assistance of this scale, so that a cash-strapped small business can afford to buy-in expertise, training and practical support. 

Read more: Survey shows majority of UK SMEs aren’t expecting EU trade slowdown following Brexit

“The new fund will make a significant difference, and we are pleased that Ministers have really engaged with us on this, and come up with an excellent response.”

If your business is still working to adapt and change to the new trading relationship with the EU, we can help. Our Brexit FastTrack service can deliver a detailed review of your business post-Brexit to resolve the issues you are encountering. 

Learn more here.

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Free Bootcamp: Selling globally with Amazon

On 26th and 27th January, we’ll be joining Enterprise Nation for a special Amazon Bootcamp.

The free educational online event will teach participants how to sell products globally, with sessions on marketplace essentials, guidance on shipping to the USA and selling into Europe after Brexit.

The Amazon Small Business Accelerator Boostcamp is free to join and will require a commitment of seven hours learning time over the two days where participants will also receive a certificate of completion.

Sign-up for this live Bootcamp and learn more about the agendas on both days here.

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5 issues UK businesses face despite the UK/EU trade deal

After years of political wrangling and to-the-wire negotiations, Brexit for real has finally happened. For many in the general public, that’s it. Brexit is done. But for UK businesses returning to work from a well-earned festive break, the real work is yet to begin. 

The end of the transition period and arrival into a new era of UK/EU relations arrived with little fanfare. No great rip appeared in the waters south of Dover and supermarket shelves haven’t emptied overnight. 

Of course, the ongoing pandemic continues to take up much of the public and news bandwidth and, probably not until summer holidays come around and UK holidaymakers are no longer allowed to join the EU queue at airports – and when they return home to a roaming data bill – will many really notice the effects of Brexit. 

But businesses reeling from pandemic mitigations now have very real, but also very actionable, challenges ahead. 

Here’s a look at just some of the key issues for UK firms:

Added bureaucracy

Customs, origin, VAT, safety, livestock health… there’s a raft of extra red tape that exporters now have to deal with to continue trading relatively seamlessly with the EU. 

The government itself has admitted that there could be ‘bumpy moments’ in the weeks ahead as both businesses and hauliers get used to new rules and requirements.

Business travel has a new set of rules

The good news for fans of international meetings is that short-term business visits to the EU can continue, up to a limit of 90 days in a six-month period. 

However, the scope of what a business visit now covers without the need for a work permit has changed. Meetings, consultations, research, training and trade shows are all good, but selling goods or supplying services to the public are not.

The government advises that business travellers check what visas and permits may be required for specific trips into the EU.

What’s happening with data?

Much like with the introduction of GDPR, there is still some confusion and large grey areas around the use of handling of personal data between UK and EU businesses. The EU has yet to decide if the UK’s personal data protection rules are tough enough to allow continuous flow, something which if altered could leave British firms less competitive than their EU competitors. 

A temporary arrangement to continue allowing data flow for the next six months has been agreed, but the lack of detail on financial services and the potential requirement for a legal data representative on the continent are just two big future potential stumbling blocks.

Firms may accidentally break the law

There may be a raft of UK firms that accidentally break the law or, in the very least, the new trade agreement rules over the coming weeks. 

The IfG gave some examples where this could take place, noting that: “Some industries, especially food, will simply be unable to do this: cane sugar imported from the Caribbean and refined in the UK will not qualify for access to the EU tariff-free, nor will basmati rice imported from India and milled in the UK. 

“Any meat product must contain only meat from animals born and raised in the UK or the EU.”

Businesses that aren’t aware of new requirements within the trade agreement may continue trading as normal but be in violation of the new agreement. 

Whilst there will no doubt be a certain level of understanding and a grace period to cover issues like this, that won’t last forever. 

Planning for the future

There’s no doubt that the agreement of a trade deal has brought some certainty for the future. Businesses now know that tariffs and taxes won’t be levied on their goods, and Rules of Origin is far less restrictive as it could have been. 

But there are still gaps in the agreement, and we don’t know how fast or how expansive the new Global Britain will be. 

The Department for International Trade has been sprinting to form new trade and continuity agreements with a host of countries, and there will no doubt be more to come. 

The advice for UK businesses right now would be to get to grips with the new trade deal, make the required changes as soon as possible and then, once some stability has been restored, make preparations to be able to capitalise on new global opportunities as they arise.

Growing into the future

At Go Exporting, we help business just like yours plan for the future, research new markets and helping you to plan and implement your export strategy for profitable growth.

Learn more about our international trade consultancy here.

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UK Local Authorities: Investment Areas and the Impact of COVID-19 (Webinar with Enterprise Ireland)

This month, Go Exporting’s Mike Wilson and Laura Brocklebank of Enterprise Ireland discussed the changing structures of UK local authorities, the key investment areas for councils and the opportunities for Irish suppliers.

Watch the full webinar below:

Watch more webinars from Enterprise Ireland as part of Evolve UK here.

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How Brexit may impact the UK manufacturing sector

As the UK government and European Union negotiators continue in their search for a mutually-agreeable trade agreement, businesses have to carry on preparing for the end of the transition period as best as possible. 

Whilst no future deal is guaranteed, what is almost certain is a change in the way the two parties do trade with each other. That change could be as small as some additional paperwork at points of entry, or it could be as large as a WTO tariffs structure and a new regime of regulations to digest, understand and comply with. 

A new report lead by Professor Anand Menon, Director of The UK in a Changing Europe, has looked in detail at the way in which the manufacturing sector may be impacted by Brexit – especially as this segment of the UK economy is probably more significant than some would give it credit for. 

The organisation, billed as an authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations, looked at a range of factors covering the UK’s manufacturing links with the EU, sectoral and regional exposure to Brexit and how the various potential Brexit outcomes may impact everything from tariffs and rules of origin to data protection and investment.

You can access their full report here.

Highlights from the report

  • Manufacturing accounts of 10% of the total UK economy and 9% of employment
  • The sector makes up almost half of the UK’s annual exports and 60% of private-sector investment into research and development
  • Any disruption to this sector could have a ‘sizeable negative impact on the wider UK economy’ due to the reliance of other sectors on manufacturing
  • UK manufacturers are deeply integrated with the EU single market, in particular with frictionless trade in order to maintain supply chains
  • Skilled EU manufacturing workers often support key skills gaps in the UK, such as in engineering
  • Sectors including aerospace may be more resilient to a no-deal scenario as they will likely face no tariffs with international trade in this sector being predominantly tariff-free
  • Brexit will create additional financial and other cost burdens for companies with tariffs, customs declarations, loss of collaboration apportioning and audits costing money and time resource
  • Brexit uncertainty has already resulted in delayed investment in UK manufacturing 

How the government could help

  • Loans, wage subsidies and government equity stakes in manufacturing businesses could help cushion the post-Brexit shock – similar to schemes already being utilised to support the economy during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Policies covering skills, research and development and financial support could be devolved to regions and devolved institutions to support the addressing of regional economic disparities – or ‘levelling up’. This would entail a policy reset moment. 
  • Region-specific industrial policies could be used to take advantage of new technologies that are part of the fourth industrial revolution

Is your business ready for Brexit?

The transition period for the UK fully leaving the EU behind is less than 6 months away. Government figures show 61% of companies are unprepared! Discussions with the EU are faltering and a no-deal crash out seems ever more likely. 

Read more: UK business leaders reiterate ‘hugely damaging’ prospects of no-deal Brexit

Now is the time to act. There’s a lot to do to be Brexit ready. Get ahead of the game by downloading our free Brexit Planning Checklist and seeing how prepared your business is right now.

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