Under half (49%) of businesses attending a webinar from the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) said they feel confident about customs documentation and procedures.
Following the UK’s departure from the EU single market and customs union following Brexit, British businesses have been required to comply with new customs rules to continue trade with the continent.
Only 5% of the 330 attendees on the IOE&IT webinar said they felt ‘very confident’ about these new requirements, while 44% said they felt ‘quite confident’. Just under two fifths (39%) said they were ‘not very confident’ while a tenth said they were ‘not at all confident’.
'Difficult to navigate'
Suzanne Alecrim, a customs and trade specialist at the IOE&IT, said the response wasn’t surprising.
“The changes that have been introduced can be quite difficult to navigate, so I can understand why some traders aren’t too confident,” she said.
Alecrim was presenting on the webinar alongside Susan Roe, who is also an IOE&IT customs and trade specialist.
The rules for trade between the UK and EU are governed by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was signed at the end of 2020, while deals with non-EU markets have been hailed as one of the key benefits of Brexit.
However, most of the delegates (52%) on the webinar said they were not confident that they had the knowledge needed to benefit from the UK’s current and future deals, with 42% saying they were either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ confident.
On a previous IOE&IT webinar, only 37% of traders said they were currently benefitting from the UK’s trade agreement with the EU, with 48% saying they were not sure if they were.
New rules have also been introduced for goods movements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Protocol. This includes the requirement for British firms to complete declarations on goods entering Northern Ireland.
Over a quarter (26%) of the webinar delegates said they had been negatively impacted by the Protocol, with only 4% saying they had been positively affected.
Just under a quarter (24%) said their goods movements between Britain and Northern Ireland had been unaffected, though just under a third of the audience (32%) said they did not move goods over the Irish Sea.
When asked what area of customs they’d like to learn more about, 46% said customs special procedures – authorisations traders can apply for to mitigate the impact on duties and taxes at import or export.
Just under a quarter (24%) said they’d like to learn more about rules of origin, while 17% said classification.
Charity webinar series
The session was the third in a series of free webinars the IOE&IT is running to promote international trade and to support more UK firms to export.
The Exporting Starter Pack Voucher scheme is a charitable initiative from the IOE&IT. The fourth episode of the series, which will again focus on customs rules and procedures, is scheduled for Thursday 8 December 2022.