NEARLY half of UK exporters are facing difficulties in adapting to changes in the trade of goods arising from the new post-Brexit arrangements, a large-scale study has found.

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Troubles were reported by 49% of exporters.

And 51% of manufacturers overall reported difficulties in adapting to changes in trading goods.

British Chambers of Commerce warned that, for some firms, the concerns were "existential" and went beyond "mere" teething problems.

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When businesses were asked in the British Chambers of Commerce survey about the specific difficulties they were facing, commonly cited concerns included increased administration, costs, delays, and confusion about what rules to follow.

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The survey studied the impact on trade following application of the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement on January 1. The transition period which had kept the UK in the single market ended on December 31 last year.

Fieldwork for the survey, which received 1,000 responses, mainly from small and medium-sized enterprises, was carried out between January 18 and 31. Nearly half (47%) of respondents exported goods or services. 

British Chambers director-general Adam Marshall said:  “Trading businesses – and the UK’s chances at a strong economic recovery – are being hit hard by changes at the border.  

“The late agreement of a UK-EU trade deal left businesses in the dark on the detail right until the last minute, so it’s unsurprising to see that so many businesses are now experiencing practical difficulties on the ground as the new arrangements go live."

He added: "For some firms these concerns are existential, and go well beyond mere ‘teething problems’. It should not be the case that companies simply have to give up on selling their goods and services into the EU. Ministers must do everything they can to fix the problems that are within the UK’s own control, and increase their outreach to EU counterparts to solve the knotty issues that are stifling trade in both directions. 

“This situation could get worse if the UK sticks to its guns and introduces additional SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) checks in April and full customs checks on imports in July. These timescales need to change – and the support available for businesses who are battling to adapt to new trading conditions significantly increased.”