Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin, spoke in Parliament this week regarding the impact of Brexit on local businesses.
Mr Yasin asked a question in Friday’s Cabinet Office Questions after hearing that businesses across Bedford and Kempston were struggling with the impact on their businesses following the changes since leaving the EU.
The Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce said that they had been working with hundreds of local businesses over the last few months to overcome recent challenges.
There was an assumption amongst businesses that a free trade agreement meant exactly that, so many businesses have been shocked to discover that the way they trade with the EU would change drastically no matter what the deal outcome was.
In Friday’s Cabinet Office Questions, Mr Yasin asked the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Paymaster General: “Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce is doing an excellent job helping businesses in Bedford and Kempston cope with the significant challenges that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal has imposed on them.
“Businesses are in shock trying to overcome the new and complex operational challenges around rules of origin, unexpected tariffs, VAT implications and the vast swathes of logistical paperwork.”
Mr Yasin concluded by inviting the Paymaster General to attend a roundtable with the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce to hear the real experiences of local SMEs, who, he said, “don’t know if they will survive this disruption.”
Justin Richardson, chief executive, Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’ve been working with hundreds of businesses in the last few months to overcome the challenges presented by the UK-EU Trade & Co-operation Agreement.”
He said that since Brexit, trading with the EU and Northern Ireland has become far more complex and difficult to navigate.
“It’s important that these real issues are being heard at the heart of Government and welcome the voice that Mohammad Yasin has given to the local business community at Cabinet Office Questions.
“I’ll look forward to the roundtable.”
Despite the Prime Minister’s assurances that The EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) meant that there would be “no non-tariff barriers to trade”, businesses are discovering there are tariffs, and many damaging non-tariff barriers.
The Chamber of Commerce has identified that local businesses are confused around the rules of origin requirements within the TCA and the major complications around Article Orig. 7 and the rules on Insufficient Production on goods in certain sectors such as textiles, agri-food and some areas of manufacturing which have meant some businesses are now incurring tariffs.
This has meant in a number of circumstances, that companies are now uncompetitive in EU markets or face additional tariffs that are eroding margins.
Speaking after Cabinet Office Questions, Mr Yasin said: “The Government promised no non-tariff barriers to trade. But the truth is that British businesses are facing checks, red tape and bureaucracy on a scale they weren’t at all prepared for.
“There are companies across Bedfordshire uncertain if the EU – the largest trading bloc in the world is still a viable market for them.
“I asked the Minister to sit down with businesses in Bedford and Kempston to face up to the serious issues businesses are dealing with.”