Two months ago, we wrote of how Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to honour the 2016 Brexit referendum and extricate the UK from the European Union were not exactly speeding along.
Nevertheless, we explained that we were well advanced with plans to provide support for many clients who remain convinced about the merits of trading with other businesses and consumers in Ireland and further afield once withdrawal takes place (https://caedelivers.com/news/chaos-and-clarity-helping-clients-planning-for-commercial-life-after-brexit/).
Over the intervening weeks, that work has continued unabated, just as has the volume of shipments which we process on customers behalf increases month after month.
It would, however, be incorrect to say that the lack of certainty about what kind of Brexit there might be - a ‘soft’, negotiated withdrawal from the EU or a ‘hard’, agreement-less departure - has had no discernible effect.
Even after the European Council extended the deadline by which the UK should ratify the withdrawal terms struck last November (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/brexit-may-defies-tory-rebels-with-pledge-to-stay-on-z2j6q3xnl?shareToken=f425cb95baeda37d07fc24181dbb007e), business still has no clear idea about whether all of the measures designed to protect it from any potentially negative consequences of Brexit will ultimately prove unnecessary.
To borrow the advice of Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to his EU political colleagues this week, companies have to be “practical, logical, [and] sensible” in preparations (https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/taoiseach-calls-on-ireland-to-be-grown-ups-in-the-room-on-brexit-917001.html).
That means making sure that provision is made for additional export duties; the twin needs to register for VAT and appoint customs representatives in Ireland or any other member states remaining in the EU to which firms plan to sell goods; and, of course, any logistical support, such as warehousing or transport, which might be required to move product with as little interruption as possible.
With a fresh extension to the Brexit process, it might be tempting for business to defer investing time and effort in such planning. However, it’s worth remembering that if the UK parliament manages to actually ratify the current draft withdrawal agreement, the country might leave well before the October 31st cut-off point.
CAE Delivers is not alone in stressing the importance of having contingencies in place immediately. The British Chambers of Commerce have updated their own guidance, noting that withdrawal will “bring change for businesses of every size and sector” (https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/media/get/Business%20Brexit%20Checklist.pdf).
We understand how some firms - especially those who have revised their operations - might simply want to put into practice what they have developed in theory immediately.
Even so, we would urge businesses to resist Brexit weariness.
If and when the UK’s departure from the EU occurs, the shift in procedures may be instant. Those companies which are ill-prepared may struggle to take advantage of whatever economic opportunities present themselves.
To ensure that your systems are Brexit-ready and fit for purpose, get in touch with us.
We are ready to do our best to help clients meet the challenges which Brexit will no doubt represent, even if that means having to react at short notice to a rapidly-shifting political and commercial environment.