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Brexit Bulletin – February 2021
Brexit Bulletin – February 2021

Welcome to your February Brexit Bulletin. The loss of the Single Market and Customs Union is now firmly bedding in, with so-called ‘teething problems’ (according to Government) being experienced far and wide. Two out of three supply chain managers (across industries) report experiencing import delays of two to three days, a problem being echoed by many of you.

The obstacles come despite levels of trade traffic in January being lower than usual, likely due to stockpiling ahead of December 2020 and of course COVID-19. However, in the first week of February overall freight flows between GB and the EU reportedly reached 98% when compared to the same time last year.

Whether these challenges really are ‘teething problems’, or natural consequences of leaving the EU (as suggested by David Cameron), is disputed between Government and the businesses actually suffering disruption. If you’re coming across Brexit pain points, do let us know – whether you need help or want us to share your experiences with our contacts in the Department for Business.

Don’t forget you can add colleagues to our mailing list to keep them updated on the Brexit Bulletin, and how else the BPIF is supporting your organisation, by logging into the members’ area of the BPIF website or by contacting your Regional Director

In this month’s Bulletin:

1. Political update

2. Funding support for SMEs

3. Handy EU trade webinars

4. A new free trade agreement?

5. Latest publications

1. Political update

It was announced this month that former lead Brexit negotiator Lord Frost will join the Cabinet as chair of a committee on implementing the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Opposition politicians have accused the Government of elevating Frost to a position of responsibility without accountability. Becoming what’s essentially Minister for EU relations, from Monday, he’ll work under Michael Gove in the Cabinet Office.

Also this month, backbench Conservative Brexiteers, the European Research Group, called on the Prime Minister to tear up the arrangements made regarding Norther Ireland. They called on him to activate Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol - which they previously voted for – allowing him to suspend the agreement if it causes ‘serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties’ or diversion of trade. The group argue that empty supermarket shelves, increased costs and general disruption mean that a ‘mutual enforcement regime’ would be preferable, They insist this would remove the customs border in the Irish Sea created by the protocol, without requiring the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.


2. Funding support for SMEs

The Government has announced a new Support Fund for SMEs to help with changes to the trade rules, which might be worth checking out. You can apply for up to £2K to pay for practical support for importing and exporting.

You’re eligible if you employ less than 500 staff, have no more than £100 million turnover and you trade only with the EU.

The grant can be used to pay for specialist training and support on:

  • How to complete customs declarations
  • How to manage customs processes
  • How to use customs software and systems
  • Specific aspects of trade, including VAT, excise and rules of origin

PWC will be administering the grants, which will be open for applications soon. Click here to find out how you'll be able to apply.


3. Latest EU trade webinars

The Government’s webinar offering has been updated this month, including some 60-second walkthrough videos from the Department of International Trade.

HMRC’s live webinars are ongoing, with these coming up:

Importing – What You Need to Know About Staged Controls (border controls)

3 March, 1:45pm

Sign up by clicking here.

Trader Responsibilities When Using an Intermediary

4 March, 11:45am

Sign up by clicking here.

Exporting – What You Need to do to Keep Your Goods Moving

9 March, 1:45pm

Sign up by clicking here.

Customs Import Declarations – An Overview

10 March, 1:45pm

Sign up by clicking here.


4. A new free trade agreement?

On 31 January, the UK government announced it would apply to join a free trade area with 11 Asia and Pacific nations. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) currently includes Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.  The countries cover a market of around 500m people. But it’s a harder to reach market, and in total CPTPP nations accounted for 8.4% of UK exports in 2019, roughly the same proportion as Germany alone. Additionally, it’s been viewed as a mixed bag when it comes to benefits for its signatories.

Former President Trump pulled out of talks to join the Agreement when he came into office, but if the new Biden administration were to reconsider, membership would become even more attractive for the UK, allowing for a much closer UK-US trading relationship without waiting for a bilateral UK-US trade deal to be reached.


5. Latest Publications


We've trawled through the latest publications about Brexit of particular relevance to the printing industry.

South West Manufacturing Advisory Service - National Manufacturing Barometer: Special Focus – Trading Beyond Brexit 

Institute for Government – The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020


View all the online resources here.


01 March 2021

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For more information please contact:
Carys Davis
Carys Davis
Public Affairs Adviser
07854 950316
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