Brexit and the impact on imports of European limestone
What will a "No-Deal Brexit" do to prices and lead times?
Right from the first day that the referendum result was known, people have asked me what the impact of Brexit is likely to be on the stone business. They wanted to know if it might affect their projects. Back then, my answer was, "I can guess but I don't really know" and even now, we are none the wiser. Will there be a deal or won't there? One thing we do know is that things will get more complicated post Brexit.
At the moment, the process of ordering is very simple. As a member of the EU, I email my contact at the French quarries and pass them the customer order. They give me a price in Euros. I email the haulage agent who also gives me a price for the shipping. I pay the quarry and the agent and then the stone is produced and delivered to the customer. The process requires no customs clearance or special paperwork and there are no tariffs on imported European stone. There is no foreign VAT to pay or account for. In November later this year, it might all change.
With the prospect of a "no-deal" looming, the government has been encouraging businesses to take steps to minimise the impact but customers also need to mitigate the potential risks, particularly if they are planning projects in the next year or so where imported natural stone has been specified.
Without being drawn in to the pros and cons of Brexit generally, in this blog I will try to summarise the effect. But first, here are some links to other web sites (I have included quotes only from websites that should be impartial - there are many that show a clear bias either for or against Brexit).
For imports into the UK
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government will determine and publish a new applied UK ‘most-favoured-nation’ (MFN) tariff schedule before the UK leaves the EU. Information on the current tariff rates are available in the UK’s applied goods schedule and can be found on the UK Trade Tariff tool.
Trading with the EU if there’s no Brexit deal
In the event of No Deal, the UK will become a ‘3rd country’ in terms of its trading status with the EU27. This means that:
- The current Customs & Excise rules applying to non-EU/EEA territories will also apply between the UK and EU
- Customs declarations and safety/security declarations will be required for the movement of goods
- Current UK import rules can be found here (these rules would apply to us if/when we leave the EU with no deal)
The impact of ‘no deal’
17.We asked our witnesses what the consequences, positive or negative, of ‘no deal’—that is to say, a complete failure to secure agreement—would be.
18.Very few witnesses identified any positives arising as a result of ‘no deal’. John Foster, Director of Campaigns, CBI, told us:
“Positives are very difficult to come by, and … no deal is not an option that the CBI or our membership advocates in any way, but the one positive would be that it is decisive and quick. You are talking about a very complex relationship over 40 years, so no deal would provide a very definitive stop-off point."
As I said at the top of this blog, we are not really any wiser 3 years on from the result of the vote.
Nearly all industry experts are saying that if we leave the EU with "no deal", costs to businesses (and customers) will increase. There may be additional tariffs imposed on materials and there will be additional administration costs for paperwork and permits etc on the UK side. Lead times will increase as there are likely be extended delays at the border crossings. The quarries are also likely to add extra costs to allow for their increased administration. (Some quarries already apply an additional charge to the cost of the material when preparing orders for delivery outside the EU to cover the cost of extra admin and certificates.)
My advice to people who are planning to use European stone in their projects in the next 6 months or so would be to get your order in with your supplier as quickly as possible so that you have a chance of getting the delivery before the 31st October deadline.
If we end up with a "no-deal Brexit", there will almost certainly be delays and cost increases after that date.
If you have any other questions or need expert help with your natural stone project, please call us on 0345 260 80 70 or email email@example.com.
Thanks for reading.
Tel: 0345 260 8070
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