Bevis Wright Senior Consultant

Britain will be leaving the European Union in March 2019. No change there.

However, after a transitional deal between the EU and UK was agreed on Monday 19th March, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit appears very unlikely and the fear of a regulatory cliff-edge upon leaving has been delayed to December 2020.

The agreement reached provides a short-term boost for business, giving companies clarity to proceed with investment strategies with the assurance that there will be no resorting to WTO rules or extra tariffs next year.

Nevertheless, it would be reckless to scrap all contingency planning, as this Transition Agreement represents a delay rather than a garden path to the exit door.

The Prime Minister has admitted that 'life is going to be different. Our access to each other’s markets will be less than it is now.' What exactly is going to change, as opposed to “whether Brexit will happen”, is what businesses need to plan for.

Here are four focus points for your Brexit Plan:

Consider the potential impact there could be on access

This includes access to customers, suppliers and labour and the resulting costs, delivery times, data protection issues and red tape. Understand how access issues can be eased, for example, by obtaining AEO status, to allow faster clearance at borders.

Expect uncertainty to last until the very last minute

Unless a comprehensive deal can be made between the EU and UK, that tackles the separation, transition and the future EU/UK relationship, there is still a risk of a hard Brexit.

How ready are your suppliers?

Even if you have readied your business for Brexit, large disruption could be caused by suppliers that are not prepared and cannot meet their contracts. Speak to them about their preparations and ways to better work together.

Ensure adequate cash flow for VAT and additional stock.

Cash flow is likely to be restricted due to VAT being charged at the border when importing. There may also be a need to hold more inventory to avoid the risk of potential delays at borders.

In summary, 'uncertainty' is still the word! However, there are things that you can be doing now to plan and forecast scenarios so that you can be prepared. Look out for further updates over coming months.