Low levels of Brexit preparedness still evident among business

Chartered Accountants Ireland public policy lead Cróna Clohisey

NEW research shows that uncertainty about the impact of Brexit-related changes is high, while the level of preparedness among businesses in the north remains low.

The data from from Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) shows that while three quarters of those surveyed are aware of the customs and VAT changes that the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will bring, few fully understand their application or impact on trade.

The changes proposed under the Protocol mean Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK customs territory but will stay aligned with the EU's customs union and single market to avoid certain checks on goods on the Irish border.

While 60 per cent of businesses in the north are aware of the Trader Support Service, a free customs advisory and services tool for businesses launched by the UK government, 38 per cent aren't sure whether or not the system would apply to them. Some 18 per cent of respondents have registered an interest in the scheme to date.

CAI public policy lead Cróna Clohisey said: “Northern Ireland faces unprecedented upheaval in terms of VAT and customs next year. There are several changes coming down the tracks and the devil is most certainly in the detail.

“Next year, the UK will have three different VAT systems across goods and services with Northern Ireland following EU rules on goods. This will make the system the most complicated in the EU meaning businesses are going to have to align both their knowledge and systems to be ready.

“Our research showed that almost two thirds of those surveyed are confused about the changes.”

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