After a few minutes of waiting in line hunting for the best local grocery store, it’s time to make up your mind.
Maybe some wonderful Parma ham from Italy? With a few slices of Spanish chorizo? And a piece of brie from that farm in Normandy… oh, and certainly black olives from Greece.
The government may not care about the new and cumbersome Brexit rules and regulations affecting imports to Britain from the EU which went into effect on January 1, but organizations representing UK small businesses do not. not. Businesses are concerned about the impact on their businesses – and the choices that will be available to their customers at their favorite specialty stores – on Main Street.
The Federation of Small Businesses cites local delicatessens, many of which import from small specialist suppliers in the EU, as the type of operators that could be affected.
“The classic example is your delicatessen which imports specialties like, say, chorizo from Spain or parmesan from Italy”, explains James Sibley, responsible for international affairs of the federation. “For them, the thought of having to sign up for these systems is intimidating and the process is expensive, so we have a lot of concerns there. For the small businesses directly affected, we had a lot of concerns. “
The blow to smaller EU exporters to the UK could be similar to that suffered by UK exporters to the EU over the past year, many of whom have simply given up on selling goods to the continent because that the post-Brexit export rules have bothered them too much. and too expensive to continue.
Since the start of last year, UK exporters have faced additional red tape and costs, and their customers have been stung by the resulting price hike – despite claims by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and other Brexiteers say leaving the EU will cut regulations and lower prices. .
Now, Sibley says, the effects could be similar for small importers to those UK exporters faced in 2021.
“This is the reverse of what happened to UK exporters over the past year. We know that a fifth of our exporting members have stopped exporting to the EU, due to this disruption. “
Rules that came into effect on January 1 require companies (in most cases those receiving goods in the UK, but in some those sending them here) to notify customs authorities of what precisely is being sent to Great Britain. Brittany from the EU, and from where. The rules have been lifted in effect throughout 2021. The process will require the exporter to acquire and then submit an Eori number (Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number) to its UK customers so that importers can then enter a lot of data and send it to the UK authorities.
If the goods arrive with incomplete papers, they can be seized, confiscated or returned.
Sibley says there is evidence that many EU exporters are unprepared for what is about to hit them.
“What we’re hearing is that there are traders in the EU who aren’t ready for all of this, even to the point of not having that number, so that’s a concern.”
Then, on July 1 of this year, more regulations and controls will come into play. “Now, exporters will also need export health or veterinary certificates if they are exporting animal products or food. That’s when some EU exporters might just say, ‘You know what, forget that. It’s not worth bothering ”.
Sibley adds: “Also in July you will have physical inspections of goods at border crossings in the UK, so again this could cause delays as you will basically have a vet with a clipboard going around the truck saying” it’s true, it’s good, (or not) ‘.
Business groups say the problems will primarily affect small traders, as larger companies can afford to pay customs officials or freight forwarders to handle documents for them.
In the UK’s shopping streets, some traders are already worried about empty shelves appearing on their shelves in 2022 and rising prices.
El Colmado, Bristol’s only Spanish deli, imports just about everything: chorizo sausages, huge Serrano hams and shiny green olives. Its owner, David Pavon, expects more disruption and higher prices when importers are required to make real-time customs declarations, enter details of food imports into various customs systems and get special codes for trucks on ferries.
“The logistical problems have already increased over the past year due to the devastation taking place in England,” he said. “So I imagine that in January we are going to see even more delays, because if a truck driver has to sit at the border for six hours or more, we will have to pay his wages. We pay customs officers in Spain and here to enter the information [required for import], which also increases the price.
Pavon, 41, has already raised his prices – and expects to have to do so again in 2022. “They keep going up and you will see an increase and an increase,” he says. “Someone is making money along the way, but you and I are going to have to pay for it.”
Wholesalers supplying gourmet grocery stores and specialty food stores have similar concerns. Reading-based Cotswold Fayre, which supplies hundreds of premium food lines, including European favorites such as stollen and panettone, to independent retailers across the UK, has been forced to budget for delays and cost increases on imported products instead of investing in the creation of new jobs.
“This is not what we want to do – I would rather spend to start another store, but if we have to do it, we will. [absorb extra costs]Says Paul Hargreaves, the founder of the company.
Hargreaves, who recently met his local MP, Alok Sharma, believes the government does not understand the impact of Brexit on UK businesses. “[Ministers] are not in the real world. They think things are much easier than they actually are. It’s very frustrating, ”he says.
“If they had had to experience it for themselves, maybe there would have been a little more effort to get a better Brexit deal. The perception is that the ideology [of Brexit] is more important than practicality for business in UK.