As we approach the latest Brexit deadline on April 12, I am writing to you on behalf of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and our member businesses throughout Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield districts to highlight the most basic of questions surrounding our departure from the EU which remain unanswered.
Following a recent Business Forum held by the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Kirklees Council and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the key concern to be tabled by businesses within our region, is the lack of information available that they require in order to effectively plan for a no-deal Brexit.
With a ‘no-deal’ Brexit looking like a strong possibility, firms are in need, now more than ever, of clear answers on the terms of trade they would face in such a scenario. As a nation, we are aware that our businesses do not want a messy and disorderly exit from the EU, and therefore our authorities owe it to us to provide a clear picture of what the future could entail following a ‘no deal’ withdrawal.
Here at the Mid Yorkshire Chamber, we have been working closely with the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – which has campaigned strongly for official guidance – and we have, where possible, communicated the technical notices, partnership packs and other avenues of support to our members to assist with ‘no-deal’ Brexit planning.
However, there are still many issues that remain without clear guidance. This is especially true in the case of international trade, where the bulk of the questions asked by our members are surrounding the many uncertainties faced by a ‘no deal’ scenario.
Issues including whether businesses will be able to move skilled staff members between the UK and the EU after 12 April and if so, under what conditions dominate, alongside questions if existing trade agreements be rolled over or replaced on a bilateral basis in time to prevent the loss of preferences and customs facilitations. Quite frankly, our government should be doing more to feed this information through to the many UK Chambers, for us to communicate to our members.
Most of these unanswered questions reflect fundamental aspects of how companies operate. For instance, the terms of trade agreements can affect pricing decisions, margins and even choice of business location and the geography of supply chains. The absence of clarity and precision has already stifled investment and growth and it is getting worse the closer we get to Brexit, resulting in unnecessary costs, inability to plan and, increasingly, loss of business as customers look elsewhere.
It is clear that the UK is not prepared for a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU on April 12th, yet firms are being asked to prepare for all scenarios without being given the tools to do so.
On behalf of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber and businesses in the Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield areas, we ask that our MP’s raise this with the government as a matter of urgency and consider the steps they can take to ensure the future of our economy and avoid further confusion for businesses.