With 100 days to go until the end of the Brexit transition period and the inevitable changes to come with it, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is urging businesses to “focus on their readiness”.From January 1, 2021, the UK will no longer be in the single market or customs union which means trade will be starkly different from then on. Even if a free trade agreement is concluded between the EU and UK, there will be “significant and enduring change”, Minister Varadkar has warned.

One of the areas where businesses will experience enormous change is customs. Calling on businesses to take action now, the Tánaiste said:

“From the start of next year, customs declarations will need to be completed if businesses intend to continue trading with the UK, whether that is importing or exporting goods to the UK or using the UK as a land-bridge to move their goods to or from mainland Europe.

“We are now 100 days away from the end of the transition period. I ask all businesses regardless of their size – small, medium or large – to focus on their Brexit readiness; as things will simply not be the same.

“Being prepared for customs formalities is critical.”

‘Consider Seeking Alternative Suppliers’

Minister of state Damien English said that businesses buying or selling into the UK should look at their supply chain and determine if there are any vulnerabilities due to Brexit.

“Get in touch with your suppliers, service providers and logistic companies, or wholesalers and distributors to seek assurances on the continuity of supply,” the deputy said.

Consider seeking alternative suppliers either in the domestic market or further afield if you have concerns about the continued supply of products or goods.

The government is also advising businesses to ensure they have adequate cash-flow, as it could be impacted for a number of reasons including currency fluctuations, tariffs or potential delays.

The government has made available a grant up to €9,000 per employee taken on or redeployed to enable businesses to build their capacity to manage any customs changes. There are also supports such as the Brexit Loan Scheme and the Credit Guarantee Scheme.

There will also be new regulatory requirements for businesses who have relied on the UK up to this point.From the beginning of January, the UK will be considered a third country and, therefore, businesses cannot use UK notified bodies for, for example, product certification purposes. They must use a notified body within the EU.

‘Everyone Should Take Steps Now In Order To Be Ready’

Concluding, Minister Varadkar said that businesses need to be sure their certifications and standards are EU compliant from January of next year.

“I am sure we have all noticed the CE certification mark on various products, which means they meet particular standards set out in EU law,” the minister explained.

“These are assessed by notified bodies and you must ensure that a notified body within the EU is used. So, if you have depended on a UK notified body, you must change over to one in the EU.”New trading arrangements will have a significant impact on agri-food businesses, and the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has called on them to urgently complete their preparations for Brexit.

He added that businesses “need to fully understand and comply with these requirements in order to continue trading effectively” with Britain.

“Everyone should take steps now in order to be ready, and that starts with registering with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine if you import or export animals, plants or products of animal or plant origin from or to Britain.”