Many British firms are deeply worried about the trade costs of Brexit and time to make adequate preparations is limited, a new business group has warned MPs.
The Three Chamber Alliance - a pioneering collaboration between London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) and Business West that launched at the Houses of Parliament this week - highlighted the impact that Brexit uncertainty is having on day-to-day operations and decision-making for businesses.
Andrew Varga, managing director of Seetru, a safety valve manufacturer based in Bristol, told the audience of South West MPs, which included Robert Buckland (South Swindon), Darren Jones (Bristol North West), Wera Hobhouse (Bath), Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) and David Drew (Stroud): “In Europe, we supply into the integrated international just-in-time supply chains operated by large multi-national businesses.
"Our customers’ production processes are dependent upon very quick and on-time supply; delays cause them difficulties and stop their production lines which is completely unacceptable to them.
“If there are Customs formalities, we will face a next to impossible task in turning round the necessary export documentation within our short lead times. Furthermore, we have twice as many individual orders from the EU as from the rest of the world, so this will triple our export administration workload for no extra business.
“We have been suffering from Brexit blight in the EU market since last year in that we are unable to develop new business due to the risks around customs friction and the uncertainties. German and Italian competitors are snapping at our heels - and biting chunks out of our legs.”
Export businesses representing London and Manchester Chambers painted a similar picture, highlighting the impact that Brexit uncertainty is having on three key centres of the UK economy, and underlining the need to speak as one business voice in campaigning for change.
Coinciding with the launch of their new collaboration, the Three Chambers’ brand campaign platform, chamber.online, got its first public outing.
The platform, which provides news, comment and views on Brexit and other pressing issues across the Three Chambers, enables businesses to make connections and amplify the impact of campaign activities to make a difference to businesses on the ground.
Speaking about the Three Chambers’ first joint campaign initiative ‘Terms of trade: the reality of Brexit for Business’, Phil Smith, managing director of Business West said: “Trade friction will have a cost on competitiveness for many of our members which will hurt our local economy.
"We will be moving from frictionless trade to a system with friction, undermining many of our small exporters and largest business sectors – and forcing some to relocate production onto the European mainland.
"We are urging Parliamentarians to consider these real costs when debating the future Brexit deal.”