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EU Exit Business Readiness Forum meeting, 8 Aug

The Furniture industry Research Association attended a further EU Exit Business Readiness Forum meeting, organised by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and held on 8th August in Central London.

The panellists presenting were:

  • Donna Leong – BEIS
  • Syma Cullasy – DExEU
  • Lucy Messom – DIT
  • David Vallely – HMRC
  • Ursula Ritz/Charlotte Luks – DCMS

The aim of the forum is to make businesses, especially SMEs, and associations aware of developments within the Brexit process and to try to ensure that the UK industry is ready for Brexit.

Brexit Update

Syma Cullasy from DExEU provided a short update on Brexit:

The primary aim of the new administration is to leave the EU on the 31st with a deal. If, however, a deal cannot be struck on time the proposal is for the UK to leave the EU without a deal.

DExEU would not speculate as to whether a ‘no-deal’ would actually happen as it is possible that parliament may play a role in the process, and it is not known what this role would be, or its outcome.

Preparation for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is in full force, and while much of the preparation is in place the UK is not totally ready.

Over the coming weeks there will be a big increase in public communications, as has been announced in the press.

The new administration is open to ideas on how to communicate and what is needed for businesses to succeed in a pot Brexit environment, therefore if Associations have any ideas, even if they have been rejected before, then they should put these forward.

This was echoed by a DExEU director who briefly spoke, suggesting that there could be funding available to associations who have innovative ideas on how to communicate with industry – especially SME’s.

Trade Agreement Continuity

Lucy Messom provided an update:

The UK was seeking to ensure that the majority of EU/third party trade agreements continued with the UK post Brexit. So far there are 35 agreements with 65 countries ready to go when the UK leaves the EU. These include : Andean countries, CARIFORUM trade bloc, Central America, Chile, Eastern and Southern Africa trade bloc, Faroe Islands, Iceland/Norway, Israel, Liechtenstein, Pacific states, Palestinian Authority, Switzerland.

This secures continuity on £89 billion of UK trade.

Questions were raised regarding trade deals with:

  • Japan – UK would not look for continuity with the recently signed EU/Japan trade deal, but would look for a more ambitious agreement post Brexit.
  • Turkey – UK could not look at a separate agreement with Turkey as they were part of the EU customs agreement.
  • Canada – discussions could not officially start until after we leave the EU.
  • US – whilst discussions could not officially start until after we leave the EU, a lot of background work had been completed.

HMRC Customs and Border Design

David Vallely from the HMRC updated the group on import/export.

The main aim of the HMRC is to maintain security whilst facilitating the flow of goods and people in and out of the country.

To import or export an item it is essential that a business has a UK Economic Operator Registration Identification number (EORI). For businesses who have operations in Europe, they will also need an EU EOPI number.

The current plans are for import/export documentation to be logged electronically in advance, with controls and checks undertaken away from the border.

As there are currently no checks on items imported from the EU, there will initially be Transitional Simplified Procedure for importing goods to facilitate free flow of goods, whilst permanent measures are being put in place.

Data Flows and Data Protection after Brexit

Ursula Ritz and Charlotte Luks from DCMS updated the group on data protection.

The UK will continue to maintain high levels of data protection.

The UK has unilaterally decided that the EU has an ‘adequate’ level of data protection. It will therefore be perfectly acceptable for UK businesses to transfer data to the EU.

However, when the UK leaves the EU it will be classed as a third country and will need an ‘adequacy assessment‘before it is acceptable to transfer data from the EU to the UK. There is currently no time table as to when such an assessment will occur.

This means data transfer from the EU will become restricted and require additional safeguards.

This could pose problems for multinational businesses operating in the EU and UK, but also for UK based companies who store data on ‘cloud’ computing systems based in the EU. It is therefore recommended that business reviewing their data flows as soon as possible and put suitable measures in. More information can be found here.

AOB

The next EU Exit Business Readiness meeting is scheduled for the 12th September, after this it is expected that meetings will become more frequent as we head for the 31st October.

There has been feedback around the quality of Brexit information available on the .gov.uk website, and this information is being reviewed and we be updated shortly.

See slides from the forum