Considering that small businesses make up 99pc of the business community, making sure that they are visible throughout the Brexit process will be critical to making it a success.
In the months following the historic Leave vote, it appeared as if the UK may have been able to secure a ‘soft’ Brexit, involving continued membership of the single market. While this option is technically was still up for grabs, it seems increasingly unlikely as negotiations continue.
Even if the UK government does secure the softest possible landing, the processes that the UK use to trade with the continent at present will need to be replaced with something new.
Current models for trade between the EU and other countries will cease to apply to the UK. This means that customs entries will be reintroduced for European trade and duty will come payable at points of entry into all European countries, creating a potential “black hole” of regulation concerning everything from VAT to export costs, duty to customs checks.
The growing concern of a ‘no deal’ Brexit has also left a lot of business owners worried. “Over the past 17 years, we have worked hard to build our company to a point where we can export successfully,” says Alan McMurray, director of sports supplier Total Hockey, which is based in Northern Ireland and recently picked up the gong for best exporter at the Small Awards.
“Brexit should provide a chance to work with partners across the world, but the longer the process goes on, the more nervous we become that we won’t get the chance. A no deal could affect our ability to trade and thrive.”
With or without a deal, new regulations could prove costly for businesses in the UK, which won’t be helped by a weak pound. Despite rising in recent days, the pound is still worth more than 10% less now than on the eve of the Brexit vote.
Weaker than expected readings on the economy sent sterling tumbling earlier in the month. However it was the manufacturing sector that provided the worst of the bad news for the economy over the past month, putting further pressure on the pound, after figures showed the worst month for output in five years.
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