Leader – January 20, 2021

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For companies that were already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and a collapse in demand from the hospitality industry, the arrival of new Brexit trade rules have come as a sucker punch.

Offers of up to £100,000 in compensation could soften the initial blow but if the current issues over red tape and delays at ports aren’t resolved then a knock-out blow to many exporters small and large could be imminent. Urgent action is needed and it’s needed now.

While the system could become more efficient in the coming months as teething troubles are smoothed, it is unlikely to become significantly less bureaucratic and, while big national businesses may be able to cope, the deluge of forms now required of exporters may see smaller independent companies, many of which are family run, drowned in paperwork.

In the meantime stock is stuck at ports, exports to the European mainland are becoming impossible and companies could be forced out of business.

A period of grace is required while governments on both sides of the border address the problems. In the meantime the industry has made itself clear. It doesn’t want handouts, it wants a hand-up.