UK Chambers of Commerce survey identifies tariffs as biggest barrier to UK trade

A report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that almost half (48%) of the 1,000 UK businesses surveyed said the main barriers to exporting were cost and disruption, and tariffs (48 %) and customs procedures (47%). .

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An additional 41% of businesses said regulatory issues such as product certification were a barrier to trade, and 37% cited political, social, economic or environmental uncertainty. Only 9% of companies surveyed said that their company did not encounter any barriers to exporting.

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Another stumbling block preventing more international sales is the lack of company engagement with free trade agreements (FTAs), according to research. Four out of five companies (79%) had made no assessment of what they might expect from a trade agreement with major international markets. This drops slightly to 69% for UK exporters.

More than half (54%) of respondents said that “smoother customs procedures” would be a top priority for future trade deals between the UK and other countries, followed by “lower tariffs” ( 42%) and the “reduction of technical barriers” (35%). When it comes to trade with the EU, almost two-thirds (61%) of UK exporters to the EU say they can meet the requirements of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement ( TCA), while 20% say they cannot. .

However, it appears that overcoming the challenges presented by the TCA has provided opportunities for growth into new markets for some companies. Among exporters to the EU who agree they can meet the TCA requirements, 9% say they are now trading with new non-EU markets as a result, and a further 9% say they will consider doing so. do in the future.

Ian Wilson, CEO of DHL Express UK, said: “Businesses have faced enormous challenges over the past two years, but they have shown incredible resilience. In times of economic uncertainty, having a presence in a number of markets is an effective way of minimizing risk, so we need to ensure that UK businesses are encouraged to continue to seek international business opportunities. Although international trade can be difficult, businesses should not go it alone. We can see from the research that most companies are unaware of what FTAs ​​could mean for them. It’s in everyone’s interest that they succeed abroad, which is why we want exporters to feel empowered to speak to government, their trade bodies and companies like ours about the support they have. need.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said: “Our findings highlight traders’ real priorities for the UK’s trade negotiations with partners around the world and other trade policy developments. Faster customs procedures, tariff reductions, removal of technical barriers to trade, targeted support for SMEs, easier labor mobility and mutual recognition of professional qualifications are the six main issues for SMEs UK exporters.

“For traders exporting to the EU, speed, efficiency and reduced hassle are even more important. The BCC has a plan to reduce red tape on the movement of goods between the UK and the EU. We also have the ambition to boost UK exports to our key global markets through new one stop shop developments and trade negotiations. While there are challenges facing exporting businesses today, there are also, of course, many opportunities. It is crucial that in the years to come, SME exporters working with trusted logistics partners feel the significant benefits of global trade as we hope to see the removal of barriers and the opening of new international markets.

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