Northern Irish business fear over Brexit

A KPMG survey of Northern Irish businesses shows 48% of participants concerned about the new customs compliance and tariff issues which will be introduced in Northern Ireland from 1 January given that their importing and/or exporting activities have not previously been subject to customs.

Changes to the VAT rules in goods and uncertainty around continuing access to EU Free Trade Agreements also represented significant headaches for some companies almost a fifth of companies that took part in KPMG’s recent webinar ‘Preparing for VAT and Customs Changes’.

On their Brexit preparedness, 27% said they are awaiting further clarity around how the Northern Ireland Protocol will apply before commencing any Brexit preparations while just under half (48 per cent) have at least begun basic preparations such as setting up Brexit working groups and reviewing supply chains.

A quarter of companies said they had advanced preparations in place ahead of the end of the transition period on December 31, including discussions with custom intermediaries and were considering the implications of Free Trade Agreements.

Some 41% are unsure how they will deal with customs clearance administration from January. Of those that do know, a quarter expect to outsource customs clearance to a third party or freight forwarder, 25% plan to bring the declarations filings in-house while the remaining 14% were still unsure whether new import and export entry requirements would be applicable to them.

Johnny Hanna, partner in charge of KPMG, said: “While there is still the possibility that some type of technical extension to the transition period might be agreed at the 11th hour, if a deal is on the table, it’s essential that Northern Ireland businesses carry out as much planning and operational readiness as possible before January 1, notwithstanding the fact that several key issues concerning operational aspects of the NI Protocol are still to be clarified.”

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