The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) published on Tuesday a list of twenty critical questions that remain unanswered for business in the unwelcome event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March.
With less than 50 days to go until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, the publication highlights the many key issues that are still unclear for businesses in a ‘no deal’ scenario on 29 March, from what trade agreements will be in place with countries around the globe, to whether and how firms can move skilled staff between the UK and EU, and which regulations they will need to follow.
Many of the unanswered questions reflect fundamental aspects of how companies operate. For instance, the terms of trade agreements can affect pricing decisions, margins, even choice of business location and the geography of supply chains.
The absence of clarity and precision has already stifled investment and growth, and is resulting in unnecessary costs, inability to plan and, increasingly, loss of business as customers look elsewhere.
Business has been clear that it does not want a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on 29 March. While firms understand that negotiations are still ongoing, they are hugely concerned that the UK is not prepared for all eventualities, and that the sluggish and patchy nature of government planning for ‘no deal’ would become all too apparent in the economy if it is allowed to happen by default.
The leading business group, which represents 75,000 firms of all sizes and sectors across the UK employing nearly six million people is demanding answers to these twenty questions. While government agencies urge business communities to prepare for all scenarios, BCC says they are failing to give firms the tools and information needed to do so. As a result, businesses risk being left hung out to dry.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said, “In less than 50 days, UK firms could face the biggest change to their terms of trade in over a generation, without the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course.
“There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from government will leave firms, their people and their communities hung out to dry.
“Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.
“It is little wonder that many firms have been holding back on investment, stockpiling, and even opening offices and moving operations and jobs elsewhere.
“The imperative remains to avoid a messy and disorderly exit on 29 March, but businesses need answers they can base decisions on, no matter the outcome. The lack of clear, precise answers is now causing real damage to many businesses, and to the wider economy.”