FSB: Quarter of small exporters have paused selling to EU

FSB: Quarter of small exporters have paused selling to EU

New research conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has shown that those selling into the EU are suffering more as a result of new paperwork than importers while the great majority of those doing business in Europe have been hit by shipment delays or loss of goods.

The survey also shows that 11% of small exporters have established, or are considering establishing, a presence within an EU country to ease their exporting processes.

A similar number (9%) are thinking about securing, or are already using, warehousing space in the EU or Northern Ireland for the same purpose.

Small importers are also hard hit by new paperwork, though fewer than one in five have temporarily suspended purchases from the EU (17%), and a smaller proportion are using EU or NI warehousing space (6%).  

The majority (70%) of importers and/or exporters have suffered shipment delays when moving goods around the EU in recent weeks. One in three (32%) have lost goods in transit, and an even greater proportion (34%) have had goods held indefinitely at EU border crossings. Of those that have experienced delays, a third (36%) have suffered hold-ups that lasted more than two weeks.     

More than half (55%) of importers and/or exporters have sought professional advice to help them with new paperwork pertaining to EU business activity, often to assist management of customs declarations, rules of origin paperwork and altered value added tax (VAT) obligations.

Mike Cherry, FSB chairman, said: “At a moment when small firms are doing all we can to return to growth and get our economy firing on all cylinders again, those that do business internationally are being hit with some incredibly demanding, unfamiliar paperwork.

“Three months on from the end of the transition period, what we hoped would prove to be teething problems are in danger of becoming permanent, systemic ones. While larger firms have the resources and bandwidth to overcome them regardless, smaller traders are struggling, and considering whether exports are worth the effort anymore.”

He added: “Our exporters tend to be among our most innovative and profitable small businesses, so it’s troubling to see them bearing the brunt of changes. The SME Brexit Support Fund marks a much-needed intervention, and we’d encourage all those struggling to manage new requirements to apply, and for the Government to dedicate further resources if the fund is exhausted, rather than turning down applications.

“Unless more is done to ease the admin burden on those that do business overseas, and increase access to markets outside the EU, it will weigh heavy on our efforts to recover from the most severe downturn on record.”

Share icon
Share this article: