The overriding message of the Countdown to Change webinar held by British Chambers of Commerce this Wednesday (11 November 2020) was that businesses need to prepare and secure an intermediary to support them with pressing issues such as the completion of customs declarations as soon as possible.
There is still some capacity available for companies to sign up to Business West’s ChamberCustoms service, but it is imperative that firms who have not yet signed up do so before this is reached.
Our ChamberCustoms service will allow you to declare goods efficiently, helping you avoid delays at the border. As an accredited Chamber of Commerce with years of experience in the world of international trade, we will ensure that your goods reach their destination without extra costs or delays.
We also have customs declaration training available to guide you through the necessary steps and prepare you for the changes January 1st will bring.
200 questions were asked during the webinar, with those that could not be answered on the call being taken to government to be answered in due course.
The challenges that businesses are facing were widely acknowledged, with Lord Agnew, British businessman, Conservative life peer and Minister of State at the Cabinet Office commenting:
“The dual impact of COVID-19 and Brexit has meant that businesses are very stretched… but we will continue to engage with businesses across sectors to help them face the dual challenges in the preparation until the end of the transition.”
He also pointed out the transition period will not be extended and that we will be leaving the EU on 1st January, no matter the outcome of trade talks.
He continued, “the majority of actions that businesses need to take are not dependent on whether we get a free trade agreement (FTA), but the leaving of the customs union.”
He reminded businesses of the tracker tool available on the government website designed to help firms understand the specific actions required for them such as understanding how to complete customs declarations and obtaining a broker or agent if necessary.
When asked about the possibility of a US FTA, Lord Agnew said:
“I remain optimistic that we will have a trade deal with America, but we mustn’t understate the complexity of it. It would be wrong to suggest that this is imminent.
“But we proved we could achieve one with the next biggest economy, Japan, which is great progress. It is an absolute priority for us, and we will carry on with negotiations.”
The audience then heard from Liam Smyth, Director of Trade Facilitation at the British Chambers of Commerce who warned that over the last four weeks the number of customers signing up to the ChamberCustoms service was rising fast. He said:
“In some parts of the country we are reaching capacity levels, we still have some left, but we may have to close the door on new contracts before the year ends.”
Lord Agnew responded:
“You need to grab the last bit of capacity available. My biggest single worry is that traders have not engaged and signed up with intermediaries yet. If you don’t get on in the next week or so, you won’t have time to be sufficiently prepared for the go-live date in January.”