Economy Minister Ken Skates has written to tens of thousands of businesses in Wales urging them to make sure they are taking the necessary steps to prepare for the end of the EU transition period.
With only 50 days to go, the minister has set out some of the actions businesses must take to ensure they are best placed for both the end of the transition period and the possibility of a no deal.
From 1 January 2021, the UK will have left the EU Single Market meaning businesses in Wales will no longer have access to the frictionless trade in goods or services with EU member states. The minister has been clear that there are steps businesses must take now and that this is irrespective of whether the UK achieves a trade agreement with the EU.
The Economy Minister has also reiterated that the Welsh Government will continue to do all it can to support and advise businesses through these challenging times.
This includes the newly relaunched Business Wales EU Transition Portal which provides important advice and guidance for businesses preparing for European transition, and the Preparing Wales and Business Wales websites which are being regularly updated.
Economy Minister, Ken Skates said:
“This year has been incredibly difficult for our businesses. Managing the effects of Covid-19 has been a huge challenge in itself and with just 50 days of the year remaining, Welsh firms must also ensure they are prepared for the end of the EU transition period.
“Over the last 18 months we have provided additional investment to help companies train staff, explore options and navigate the challenges associated with the UK’s exit from the EU.
“To support this, we recently announced £100 million worth of business development grant funding aimed at specifically helping businesses to prepare for long term challenges associated with life post-Covid and life outside the EU. While it has been necessary to pause the application process for these grants due to the high volume of applications received, we are actively considering how we can provide further support to businesses.
“From 1 January, the way we trade with the in the EU will be different and this is true with or without a deal. It’s crucial that companies take action now to prepare themselves for the different conditions that we know 2021 will bring."
To prepare for the end of the transition period, the minister is urging businesses to:
- Check if they need a licence to import or export goods or if there will be changes to labelling and marking standards.
- Review commodity codes and ensure correct ones are being used to avoid delays at the border and ensure correct duties are paid.
- Ensure Incoterms® are negotiated at contract stage to avoid hold-ups at the border. These are the international standardised terms used in contracts which define the basic responsibilities of the parties for the goods at each point during the transit process.
- Sign up for the Trader Support Scheme if they are moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This will guide businesses through any changes associated with the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
- Establish whether or not ECMT permits are needed for any haulier journeys from 1 January 2021. The deadline to apply for an ECMT permit for 2021 is 20 November 2020.
The Welsh Government is also offering tailored advice to businesses engaged in international trade through its Business Wales website or helpline.
The minister added:
“I fully recognise that this is a truly difficult time for businesses, but be assured we are on the side of our firms and people in Wales and are listening to their views and concerns.
“If the UK leaves the transition period without a deal, the Welsh Government, Business Wales and the Development Bank of Wales will work to expand reactive business support activities to ensure companies and the people adversely affected benefit from increased assistance.
“We will continue to stand by our businesses, our workers and our communities and do everything that we can to support them.”