MORE than one in four small UK exporters have halted sales to the European Union, and the “vast majority” of firms doing business with EU customers and suppliers have been hit with shipment delays or loss of goods, a key survey has revealed.

The survey of more than 1,400 small firms, published today by the Federation of Small Businesses, shows 23% of small exporters have temporarily halted sales to EU customers and a further four per cent have already decided to stop selling into the bloc permanently after new trading rules took affect at the start of this year.

More than one in ten (11%) of exporters are considering halting exports to the EU permanently. The same proportion have established, or are considering establishing, a presence within an EU country to ease their exporting processes. And 9% are thinking about securing, or are already using, warehousing space in the EU or Northern Ireland for the same purpose.

The survey also shows “those selling into the bloc suffering more as a result of new paperwork than importers”.

While small UK importers have also been hit by the new trading arrangements and paperwork, fewer than one in five (17%) have temporarily suspended purchases from the EU (17%).

The majority (70%) of importers and/or exporters have suffered shipment delays relating to their trade with the EU in recent weeks. Nearly one in three (32%) have lost goods in transit, and 34% have had goods held indefinitely at EU border crossings. Of those that have experienced delays, 36% have suffered hold-ups that lasted more than two weeks.

The FSB report, published nearly three months after the end of the Brexit transition period, also reveals that more than half of small UK exporters have sought seek expert help to manage new administration.

The small business organisation noted that the first full quarter of post-transition trading comes to a close on Wednesday, adding: “The day also marks two years since the original Brexit date that firms were told to prepare for in 2019.”