'A time-consuming nightmare': bosses hit out at Brexit impact on exports

'Biggest ever imposition of bureaucracy': Bosses hit out on effect of Brexit deal <i>(Image: PA)</i>
'Biggest ever imposition of bureaucracy': Bosses hit out on effect of Brexit deal (Image: PA)

BRITAIN’S departure from the European Union is having a “serious detrimental impact on export” and is “not delivering the positives that were promised”, the boss of Dorset Chamber has said.

One Dorset boss has called Brexit the “biggest ever imposition of bureaucracy on business”.

The comments came following a recent survey of more than 1,168 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce. It found 92 per cent of businesses reporting significant challenges in trying to use the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), which was settled after Brexit negotiations on Christmas Eve 2020.

Martin Lloyd, of Sturminster Marshall-based Siteright Construction Supplies, said: “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.”

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber, said: “As a non-partisan organisation, it was important we remained neutral during the referendum but it’s now increasingly evident that our decision to leave the EU is having a serious detrimental impact on export and it is not delivering the positives that were promised.

“Increasing costs and bureaucracy are suppressing export activity and we’ve seen many businesses move their manufacturing to Europe. I also worry about the longer-term message this sends UK businesses in terms of growth opportunities through international trade.”

Shevaun Haviland, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “Businesses want political leaders on both sides to move on from the debates of the past and find ways to trade more freely.

“This means an honest dialogue about how we can improve our trading relationship with the EU. With a recession looming, we must remove the shackles holding back our exporters so they can play their part in the UK’s economic recovery.”

She added: “Businesses feel they are banging their heads against a brick wall as nothing has been done to help them, almost two years after the TCA was first agreed. The longer the current problems go unchecked, the more EU traders go elsewhere, and the more damage is done.”

Mr Girling told the Daily Echo: “Despite Brexit, international trade still offers significant growth opportunities and many businesses continue to prosper on an international basis.

“Dorset Chamber’s international trade team is on hand to support all businesses in the county on their export journey, including navigation of the challenges and opportunities from Brexit.”

A government spokesperson said: “We continue to help UK businesses with new post-Brexit rules and supply chain challenges caused by the pandemic.

“UK exports are bouncing back, reaching £803billion in the 12 months to November 2022, and through our programme of new trade deals and our landmark Export Strategy, we are giving businesses in Dorset the tools they need to sell to the world and help us reach our Race to a Trillion pounds of exports by 2030.

“Our Export Support Service and international trade advisers are on hand to help businesses with any queries they have about exporting to Europe and beyond.”