Don’t panic – but get prepared for Brexit says Chamber of Commerce

Companies across the region should use the transition period to get themselves ready for life outside of the EU, said an international trade expert.

An international trade expert has urged businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire not to ‘panic’ on Brexit day – but to use the next few months to prepare for the UK’s full withdrawal from the EU.

The UK will officially leave the European Union on Friday (31 January) but that will kick-start a transition period up to the end of 2020 that will mean no technical changes will come into force until next year.

James Ahearne, International Trade Hub manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said firms across the region should use the transition period to get themselves ready for life outside of the EU.

He said: “The Chamber has been supporting businesses on Brexit since the early days after the vote was taken and we’ve been running events, workshops and training programmes to help companies get ready.

“That has led to many companies taking practical steps to prepare for our exit from the EU so that, almost whatever the outcome, they will have some degree of readiness for the changes that Brexit will bring.

“It’s important to note that this Friday is not going to see any changes that affect businesses straight away – so there is certainly no need to panic. However, I’d really urge companies to get in touch with us and see how we can help them prepare.

“Some might think that they cannot prepare for Brexit until they know the details of the final UK-EU trade deal but we can say, with a high degree of certainty, that there are some elements to trading with the EU that companies will need to be up to speed with no matter what.

“For example, firms that trade with the EU will need to be ready to make customs declarations, they will need to prepare for Import VAT and they will need to have an understanding of rules of origin.

“The Chamber can support businesses with training and advice to get up to speed with all of those elements and can also advise around other aspects of international trade too.

“We’ve recently highlighted the case of a manufacturer in Warwickshire which has achieved Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status that will not only help with trade with the EU after Brexit but should help to open up other global markets too.

“Having that accreditation and knowledge has put them on a sound footing for future trade and we’d urge other companies to use this short period of time to prepare in a similar way.”

David Burton, who chairs the Chamber’s Brexit Club, which launched just hours after the referendum vote, added: “Over the coming weeks and months, there will be lots of messaging in the media from all sides and it’s important that businesses focus on what they can do now to prepare. 

“The Chamber has been proactive from day one in bringing as much clarity and information to businesses as possible and that will remain the case over the next 11 months and beyond.”

A Brexit Briefing event will be held by the Chamber on 26 February to update companies on what’s going on and the practical steps they can take over the next few months.

For more information on that and on training courses available go to www.cw-chamber.co.uk/international-trade or call 024 7665 4321.