Brexit has made trade more expensive, says accounts committee

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Britain’s exit from the European Union has so far made trade more expensive due to delays and bureaucracy, and further border disruptions are likely as passenger numbers recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday.

Brexit supporters said the exit would give the UK the independence needed to escape what they portrayed as a stagnant German-dominated project that lay far behind major powers such as the US and China.

But opponents of Brexit have warned that leaving the EU amounts to an act of self-harm that will leave the UK diminished, poorer and more insular.

As trade has been suppressed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other global supply constraints, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee found that “exit from the EU has had an impact and new border arrangements have added costs to businesses”.

“One of the big promises of Brexit was to free up UK businesses to give them the breathing room to maximize their productivity and contribution to the economy,” said Meg Hillier, chair of the committee.

“Yet the only detectable impact so far is increased costs, paperwork and border delays.”

Brexit leaders have said that in the short term there may be additional costs as the UK adjusts, but in the long term there will be considerable political and economic benefits from leaving the bloc .

Asked about the report, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said traders and carriers had adapted well to the changes and insisted there had been little disruption at the border.

“Given the continued impact of the global pandemic on global supply chains, it is still too early to draw firm conclusions on the long-term impacts of our new trading relationship with the EU,” he said. -he adds.

The Public Accounts Committee warned that the government had a lot of work to do to make it easier for businesses to trade across borders and that there were concerns about IT systems developed by customs.

In November, Britain became the latest developed country in the Group of Seven to see its merchandise exports surpass their 2018 average level since the onset of COVID-19, underscoring its poor trade performance in international terms.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Andy Bruce and Angus MacSwan) ((guy.faulconbridge@thomsonreuters.com; 07825218698;))

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