Brexit and Lockdown, what this means for your business

Brexit and Lockdown, what this means for your business

BLOG · BY TTF CEO, DAVID HOPKINS · 05 January

It has been a dramatic start to 2021 with the Government issuing a third lockdown and Brexit causing logistical issues. Below we have outlined guidance for our members that should help them trade.

This year has already brought several announcements that are likely to impact businesses.

National Lockdown:

A third national lockdown will undoubtedly cause disruption to many members businesses and families. However, we would like to reassure members of the following points contained within the Government guidance:

  • The housing market and construction can remain open, with sites allowed to continue as long as they meet safe operating criteria. This includes domestic refurbishment projects and tradespeople working in other people’s homes.
  • Builder’s merchants, building products suppliers and distributors can remain open and are listed as essential retail under the guidelines.
  • Those listed in the categories above “should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating..”

To view the full National Lockdown Guidance from BEIS, please click HERE:

The key message – bringing us back to March 2020 – is that all those who can reasonably work from home, should now do so.
Brexit:

First, we have seen the welcome signing of a Brexit agreement between the UK and EU.

The TTF has long advocated for a trade agreement to provide clarity for business and put an end to the uncertainty which has dogged the talks, so we truly welcome this development. We hope this will now bring a period of stability to get the new frameworks working properly and effectively.

However, we would remind members that this is the first time any country has negotiated a trade agreement that actively erects barriers to trade, so there could well be teething problems in the pipeline.

I would urge all members to ensure they are fully up to speed with all operational changes and obligations which now fall upon timber businesses by visiting the TTF Brexit Hub.

There are still one or two details over which TTF is seeking clarity, but, for the most part, our Brexit Hub contains all key information for business operations.

Secondly, these changes have come at a time when supply chains are still adjusting to the disruptions caused by the global COVID crisis. Supply and demand remain out of kilter for many products, while shipping and logistics issues are also causing problems.

Rules of Origin: urgent information for TTF Members looking to use the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement

With the signing of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the vast majority of traders moving goods between the UK and EU will avoid paying tariffs on that trade. However, TTF members should be aware this trade agreement only applies to goods that originate in the UK or EU.

Unlike the customs union where “third country” goods imported into the UK could move freely and duty-free from here to other EU member states. Under the new trade agreement such “third country” goods may now need to pay further duty when crossing the border into the EU or visa versa. To quote the detailed government guidance:

“Goods that do not meet the rules of origin can still be traded but they will not be able to benefit from preference under the TCA and may have to pay the standard (“Most Favoured Nation”) tariffs that the EU and UK apply to imports. For exports to the EU, this will be their Common External Tariff. Likewise, for imports to the UK, this will be the UK Global Tariff. For some goods, these Most Favoured Nation tariffs may be low or zero, but for many other goods they can be much higher.”

Fortunately, most wood products are traded duty free on a global basis so while it will be necessary to list country of origin on customs entries, there is no need to claim preferential duty rates and undertake the additional administration necessary to comply with the rules of origin requirements when importing or exporting such goods between the UK and the EU.

In order to avoid paying tariffs on the remaining wood products which qualify under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement all traders must – from 1 January – ‘claim preference’ by way of meeting the relevant rules of origin (RoO) for their products and making a declaration to that effect.

For more information please see a wider explanation on the TTF website HERE

COP26

On a more positive note, the year has started with a lot of discussion about the UK’s role in leading the climate change talks for COP26 later this year. This has included several discussions about the role that the timber supply chain can play, particularly timber in construction. The latest being the BBC here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-55429607

TTF will of course be feeding into these discussions and continue to promote our members and their products at every opportunity.

In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy New Year and a safe return to work.

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