British companies beg for time to adjust to Brexit reality

tata engines

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

British companies have welcomed a Brexit trade deal with the European Union, but are begging for a grace period to allow them to adjust to new measures and regulations.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the historic intermediation of an agreement on Christmas Eve, more than four years after Britain first voted for leaving the union. However, the agreement was signed just days before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, giving companies little time to prepare for a new relationship with the country’s most important trading partner.

Although the agreement eliminated the prospect of costly tariffs and quotas on products, there are still a number of changes to come, from new licensing standards to paperwork requirements. The Covid-19 pandemic also makes preparation even more challenging.

“Arriving so late in the day, it is vital that both sides take immediate steps to keep trade moving and services flowing as businesses adjust,” said Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, the largest business lobby from the UK in a statement. “We need urgent confirmation of grace periods to smooth the cliff edge on everything from data to rules of origin, and we need to ensure that we keep goods in transit across borders.”

Trucks return when the operation stack is activated on the Kent highway

Trucks line up during an operation to alleviate capacity problems at the port of Dover, UK, in September

Photographer: Leon Neal / Getty Images

‘Adjustment Period’

Other business groups covering auto manufacturing sectors for small businesses have also contributed.