Last reviewed 17 November 2021

Before this week’s episode of Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 titled Did Brexit work for business?, the Institute of Directors (IoD) was asked to carry out a poll about firms’ experiences of trading with the EU since the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into force in January.

In particular, the survey of 635 business leaders looked at concerns about increased costs, both to businesses and their continental customers, including rising shipping costs, customs clearance, paperwork, new tariffs and VAT charges.

The IoD found that 26% of SMEs that trade with the EU are now considering moving some of their European operations out of Britain, while nearly a fifth (16%) have already decided to move some or all of their EU operations to inside the single market because of Brexit.

Nearly half (47%) of British businesses that trade with the EU are doing less trade or have stopped trading entirely with the Union since January while 62% of those trading with the EU say their costs in this respect have risen this year, with the great majority (70%) having to absorb some or all these costs themselves.

IoD Chief Economist Kitty Ussher said: “Brexit has meant that many firms have had to fundamentally adapt their business model. For some that has meant that they have dramatically reduced their trade with the Europe, whilst for others they have had to move some of their operations on to the continent.”

While agreeing that the Government should look to exploit new opportunities for trade with third markets, she pointed out that the EU remains the UK’s largest and most important trading partner.