Thousands of West Midlands businesses are being offered local, tailored support to help capitalise on the benefits of the new European Union (EU) trade deal while reducing some of the risks.
The new EU trade deal came into effect on January 1 and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has written to more than 80,000 businesses across the region urging them to take advantage of a single point of information dedicated to the new trading arrangements.
The support is being made available by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the region’s three Local Enterprise Partnership (LEPs) to offer businesses access to the expert advice they will need to take advantage of the new trade deal and tackle some of the challenges it raises.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I’m sure people and businesses across the region will have been as pleased as I was when the announcement finally came just before Christmas that the Government had negotiated a trade agreement with the EU. The deal secures flexibility from the EU regarding Rules of Origin, which is significant to our local exporters, and so now we’ve got the deal we needed with no tariffs on exports, it’s time for us to get on with making Brexit a success for our region.
“Having run a business myself, I am acutely aware of how frustrating the uncertainty of waiting for the deal will have been. This frustration has clearly been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic, which has created immense challenges for businesses and their customers. That’s why I felt it was important to write to businesses as soon as possible to alert them to the range of free resources that can help them adapt to our new trading relationship with the EU.
“Now that our relationship is known, every business will need to explore how they can benefit from the new arrangements but also understand what changes they’ll need to make to continue trading successfully with businesses in the EU.”
In his letter the Mayor highlights some significant and positive elements of the trade deal including:
• No taxes on goods (tariffs) or limits on the amount that can be traded (quotas)
• New Rules of Origin allowing for self-certification of goods as well as a 12-month grace period to allow time for manufacturers to adjust
• A four-month data agreement reached with further discussions to be held to ensure ongoing data adequacy is retained
However, there are some challenges, including some sectors losing their automatic right of access to EU markets, and businesses are urged to access the regional support being made available to help navigate the hurdles.
Nick Abell, Chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, said: “There are a number of significant changes – including areas such as import and export of goods, international staff, and various legal protections and requirements - which will impact on many of our businesses, so it is key that companies make use of the tailored support that is being offered to ensure that commerce flows as smoothly as possible.”
In addition to the local, tailored support available at https://bit.ly/EUTransitionGrowthHubSupport businesses can also complete a free ‘Brexit checker’, and access an extensive range of UK Government advice, by visiting www.gov.uk/transition.
Businesses can also call their local Growth Hub:
• Coventry & Warwickshire: 0300 060 3747
• Greater Birmingham & Solihull: 0800 032 3488
• Black Country: 0300 770 2245