Brexit impasse hitting trade and cash flow at Mersey businesses

Members of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce are reporting that overseas buyers are cautious about completing deals until the terms of the UK’s EU departure are clear. Tony McDonough reports

Brexit uncertainty is hitting cash flow at Liverpool city region exporters


Liverpool city region businesses are losing out on overseas orders due to the Brexit deadlock, it has been claimed.

Members of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce are reporting that international buyers are cautious about completing deals until they have more details about how the UK’s departure from the EU will affect its trading terms.

That was the clear message to emerge from a meeting of the chamber’s latest International Trade Club event, which included representatives from Liverpool’s biggest businesses that are trading overseas.

No progress

The original deadline for the UK to leave the EU was March 29 this year but that was extended due to a lack of agreement and the new deadline is October 31 and, until the Conservative party chooses its new leader, no progress is likely to be made.

Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber, said: “It is evident that our members need clear decisions to come from Government about our future trading arrangements so they can get on with business and negotiate lasting deals.

“Whatever those future terms are, it is clarity that will help them most to prepare and continue to trade successfully overseas post-Brexit.”

The group expressed its frustration that there is still no obvious direction for the terms on which the UK will leave the EU and, despite plenty of post-Brexit planning by companies, uncertainty was affecting cash flow for businesses now as well as in the future.

Lack of direction

Chairman of the International Trade Club, Denis Sowler of Tithebarn, added: “Since the end of March when we were due to leave the EU, businesses have been left frustrated at the lack of direction from Government on this crucial issue.

“It is no surprise that the inactivity has led our trading partners to become tentative when they know the terms may alter significantly months from now.”

Liverpool Chamber
From left, Liverpool-Chamber chief executive Paul Cherpeau, Elena Enciso from the chamber, and Alex-Marshall of Clarke-Energy


Chamber members benefit from regular access to expert briefings and the Trade Club round table also included a keynote speech from John Griffiths, International Trade Development liaison officer at HMRC.

He outlined what companies may need to do in the event of a day one no deal Brexit. This included logistics, easements and special procedures to maintain future trading arrangements with countries in the EU and the rest of the world.

Political uncertainty

Following the HMRC briefing, Liverpool Chamber member Richard Hogg, tax director from accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, said: “Although the transitional and simplified procedures that HMRC has already announced on imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario provide some clarity for businesses, it is the political uncertainty around our future relationship with the EU and other trading partners that is the major concern.

“Until there’s clarity on this point, business confidence and investment will continue to be affected.”

The meeting was held at Clarke Energy in Knowsley, a specialist in the engineering, installation and maintenance of engine-based power plants with operations in 25 countries across the world.

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