UK Businesses Face Headwinds From Pandemic And Brexit
Businesses in the United Kingdom in sectors ranging from pet food to financial services and retail are grappling with challenges stemming from the pandemic and Brexit.
In one case, the pet food sector is encountering difficulty with selling its products to the European Union due to a dearth of vets, complex regulatory procedures and trucking companies declining to take animal-based items in the event that they are halted at the border, the Financial Times reported.
For instance, new customs checks in the wake of the trade deal between the EU and the United Kingdom made it more difficult for trucking companies to transport different items together in a shipment. Furthermore, the EU mandates “complex export health certificates.” Those certificates are often filled out in different languages if a product moves between countries, and one mistake could lead to the halting or obliteration of a shipment.
A Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association poll taken in the middle of February determined that just one-third of companies that tried to sell items to Europe this year were able to do so.
In terms of financial services, high-level leaders said on Tuesday (Feb. 23) that the EU’s and Britain’s plans to establish a financial cooperation forum by the end of March have proceeded, but that will not necessarily ensure market access, Reuters reported. If the EU finds the home market regulations of foreign financial services firms to be the same as or sufficiently similar to its own rules, the bloc can provide direct market access for those firms. The trade deal between the EU and Britain that took effect at the end of last year does not encompass financial services, according to the Reuters report.
And in retail, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported that retail sales volumes and orders dropped in the year to February. However, CBI reported that eCommerce sales grew at a record clip, according to a Tuesday (Jan. 23) press release. CBI Principal Economist Ben Jones said in the release that “trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” with “lockdown measures still in place.”