Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that import raw materials and other products from the European Union (EU) to aid their day-to-day business activities need support post-Brexit, it has been warned.
The comments come from Bibby Financial Services, which found in a recent survey that around a third of the UK’s 1.1 million SME importers would be ‘unable to operate’ if Brexit prevented them from continuing business as normal.
The group’s SME Confidence Tracker found that a further 61 per cent of SMEs that import from the EU would expect their profits to fall if they could no longer access the EU single market post-Brexit.
Meanwhile, just over half (55 per cent) of respondents said that they would struggle to find alternative suppliers outside of the EU.
Edward Winterton, of Bibby Financial Services, warned that Brexit could “completely derail the streamlined importing processes the UK has in place” if negotiators fail to reach a favourable agreement.
“Historically, imports haven’t had the same focus as exports when it comes to the UK’s trade targets,” he said.
“It is time eyes were opened and importing recognised as equally important for SME survival. Unless importing rises higher up the Government agenda, the survival of SMEs could be put at risk.”
Earlier this week, EU negotiator Michel Barnier indicated that a Brexit deal with the UK was “90 per cent done.”
However, reports suggest that there is still much yet to be agreed.
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