Response to suggested relaxation of cabotage rules

Perishable Movements Ltd – the provider of world-class logistics and supply chain solutions – has responded to reports relating to a potential relaxation of the rules governing the number of permitted deliveries a transport operator from another EU Member State can make within the UK – known as cabotage (Regulation (EC) 1072/2009).

Currently, under the terms of the UK-EU trade deal, non-UK EU hauliers are entitled to perform up to two extra cabotage operations within a seven-day period, commencing the day after delivering a load into Britain. This is in contrast to the three cabotage operations that are permitted within EU member states. The original purpose of the ruling was to improve the efficiency of road freight transport by reducing empty trips after the unloading of international transport operations.

European hauliers have called upon the Prime Minister to change the UK rules to enable drivers to perform three cabotage operations to make any trip to the UK worthwhile whilst also resolving the country’s current supply chain crisis. However, whilst we welcome the valued support of the European driver workforce, PML does not believe that this plan – if it comes to fruition – would be in the best interests of the drivers concerned.

Once again, this would represent a total disregard for driver safety and welfare. As a business, we have already spoken out on a number of occasions on the poor working environment for HGV drivers operating in the UK, who frankly, are regularly exposed to unsatisfactory – even inhumane – conditions. In this country, there is an abject failure to meet the basic needs of drivers to ensure they are able to perform their duties. As fellow human beings, they are entitled to access to facilities that provide them with a safe and secure place to park without fear of a break-in; essential shower and toilet amenities; healthy food and drink and designated spots for a well-earned break and sleep without fear of abuse or disruption.

By not providing these essential services, we are putting the safety of drivers at risk. And let’s not forget, a driver who has not had sufficient sleep or who is hungry/thirsty is potentially a driver more pre-disposed to causing an accident and therefore represents a significant danger.

Increasing the number of operations, EU drivers are able to perform in the UK – a country which, when compared with its European counterparts, has a very poor track record for the provision of services to encourage driver welfare and wellbeing – is a recipe for disaster.

At a time when HGV drivers are under such tremendous pressure, PML is working hard to demonstrate its duty of care to these essential workers, and we have exciting plans afoot at our new Lympne, Kent operation which will offer a suite of services to support driver health and comfort, delivered in a safe and secure environment.

The Reality Of The Supply Chain Crisis

Mike Parr, Managing Director PML

Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and The Food & Drink Federation have all publicly commented on the serious supply chain crisis which is threatening the nation. As a leading industry player and provider of world class logistics and supply chain solutions, PML forecast the current scenario and its dire consequences almost 12 months ago.

We are facing these issues on a daily basis.

The HGV driver shortage is paralysing the industry. More needs to be done to support the wellbeing of these important individuals who represent the lifeline to maintaining essential food & drink as well as medical supplies to the UK.

Logistics firms are being hammered with a new ‘driver retention fee’ in addition to the traditional sea freight container charges, which can be as much as £150 per container. This kind of exploitation is only adding to what is already a difficult situation and forcing firms to review their charges to the end customer to allow for these demands.

The government has supposedly prepared importers of perishables so that they are capable of undertaking the complicated paperwork associated with customs clearance post Brexit. It is bordering on ignorance to assume that anyone can navigate their way through the system with no previous experience of this specialist sector. It takes years of training for an import clerk to be up to speed with the detailed and ever changing requirements imposed by DEFRA – including not just the stringent import regulations but also the approval required to collect goods from a transit shed – yet the inference is, that this is just a ‘basic job’ that anyone can turn their hand to. Pointing importers to the government website to help them understand the requirements is just not going to cut it.

I’m afraid I don’t concur with the Prime Minister’s recent assurance that there is no impending crisis regarding food supplies. Sadly, I predict quite the opposite and envisage that by January 2022 nothing short of chaos will reign. The reality is that our industry is more affected by the pandemic now than we were last year, due to the ‘pingdemic’; the growing number of Covid cases requiring personnel to isolate for 10 days and the reluctance of many of our European drivers to be vaccinated.

Combine the HGV driver shortage, the customs clearance issues and the impact of the pandemic and it is plain to see that the country is destined to be facing some very challenging conditions. Surely the government should have seen some of this coming and prepared for these problems? The approach taken by the powers that be seems to be very much reactive rather than proactive – if I ran my business in this way, we would have gone bust.

The latest news is that Britain is poised to delay additional post-Brexit customs checks due to come into force on 1st October,
for the second time amid concerns they could fuel further disruption in the run-up to Christmas.

The fact is, there should be a long-term strategy in place to deal with all of these concerns. Not just for Christmas but in the years ahead …

The Adoption of Big Data and Analytics in Logistics Companies

According to research from BluJay Solutions, customer experience is set to become the driving force for supply chain innovation, and with that logistics companies must undergo a technological transformation to improve their use of big data and analytics.


With the onset of the ‘now economy’, customer expectations surrounding product
availability, delivery times, and communication between buyer and seller are continuing to grow, straining the logistics industry, and pushing for a greater need to use big data to become elastic in their service offering.

Value to the customer can come from improvements made through the exclusive use of internal data. Tracking vehicle data is one internal source that can help unlock this value. Through tracking shipments, product availability can be improved across both brick-and- mortar and e-commerce settings, giving customers improved choices. In addition, last-mile delivery tracking can allow adaptive delivery time estimates to be provided to customers, helping them effectively plan for the acceptance of goods.
Internal data though is limited in both its volume and nature.

For companies to truly harness the power of big data they should consider pulling data from a diverse network of sources. By factoring in local weather, geopolitical, and social commentary data, logistics companies can more accurately predict demand and react elastically to this. Consider perhaps issues surrounding the performance of refrigerated delivery trucks in different weather conditions. Through big data, combining internal tracking data of vehicles and external weather data, companies can implement route plans for vehicles that maximise efficiency whilst ensuring products do not go over threshold temperatures.


Logistic companies can also use an elastic service offering if they can predict the peaks and troughs of demand, based on external consumer data, helping to reduce unnecessary expenditure. This complex network of external data requires collaboration between partners if a true end-to-end data set is to be established. Without this, the adoption of big data by logistics companies could become a cumbersome and inaccurate endeavour. A true network of data will allow manufacturers to fully integrate with suppliers giving them information about shipping status, inventory, demand, and capacity.

If suppliers know the demand of a manufacturer over the next quarter, they can scale up and down production, and if logistics companies know the demand, they can plan accordingly to ensure they provide the necessary services.

For businesses to achieve the success they must assure that the data they collect, and use is accurate. External data may provide some organisations with uncertainty as they may not be able to assess its accuracy. Based on this the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production have devised a framework for organisations to benchmark themselves against in their adoption of advanced technology and data. This has opened the door for new partnerships to be formed for data sharing and collaboration across the supply chain.

PML establishes Kent operation to create 30+ jobs

PML invest £3.5m in the purchase of a 100,000 square foot satellite site in Lympne, Kent.

Over 30 office and warehouse jobs are to be created following a decision by global perishable cargo specialist Perishable Movements Ltd (PML) to set up a new satellite operation at Lympne Distribution Park. This facility will sit alongside PML’s main operations at Heathrow and its additional site at Spalding. In addition to providing employment opportunities to the local area, the company’s move to establish a Kent base will also have a considerable positive impact on the local infrastructure, reducing delays on the roads within the area, caused by queuing freight traffic.

The forward-thinking company has invested around £3.5m in the purchase of a 100,000 square foot satellite site in Lympne, which of course represents a prime location for hauliers given its excellent proximity to the motorway network, Channel Tunnel and the ports (Dover and Folkestone). This will enable PML to provide its customers with the opportunity to capitalise on an alternative route in and out of Heathrow, representing a seamless, efficient freight forwarding service which does not attract the charges / penalties associated with using the roads within the Greater London area affected by the new LEZ standards. The company also plans to apply for remote HMRC / DEFRA approved Border Control Post (BCP) status to enable a faster transit of consignments out of the Port of Dover (which currently does not have a BCP). The Lympne site will enable PML customers to avoid the excessive well documented delays associated with freight traffic in and out of Dover and therefore extend the shelf life of any temperature sensitive cargo (which represents PML’s core business), by up to 4 hours.

The 24/7 operation which will handle daily consignments of food – for packing, loading and unloading – should be up and running by end September. The business anticipates the new facility has the capacity to process 80-100 truck movements per day in its first phase of operation – which will focus on refrigerated goods only. 

PML’s latest venture comprises two impressive purpose-built cold stores, 14 dock levellers to enable safe and time efficient loading and offloading, expansive parking (for up to 60 trailers) and generous office space. The company plans to spend around £1m on refurbishments to bring the building up to its exacting standards and to ensure best practice in the handling of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and flowers. This will include the creation of dedicated inspection areas and offices for customers.

Commenting on the decision to create a base at Kent, managing director Mike Parr said, “Our new site is located just two miles from Junction 11 of the M20 and really couldn’t offer a more desirable location.

In addition to proximity to the ports and Heathrow, we anticipate that haulage drivers will also appreciate the efficient and seamless service we will be able to deliver, enabling them to leave the trailer onsite while they take a rest break, as opposed to sitting in a queue worrying about the lengthy delays which could seriously impact on the condition of their perishable cargo – and of course adds to major delays on Kent’s roads. We are keen to become an active member of the local community and will be providing employment opportunities at a time when many people have suffered financially as a result of the pandemic.

Anyone wishing to find out details of the jobs that are on offer should contact recruitment@pml-ltd.com.”

Is the lack of HGV parking facilities in Kent having a detrimental effect on HGV drivers?

This week Logistics UK has voiced concern over new rules on lorry drivers parking in Kent laybys and the adverse affect this is having on driver welfare. Mike Parr, Director at Perishable Movements Limited issued this statement earlier today

This week Logistics UK has voiced concern over new rules on lorry drivers parking in Kent laybys and the adverse affect this is having on driver welfare.

Mike Parr, Director at Perishable Movements Limited issued this statement earlier today:

“PML whole-heartedly supports the over-arching concerns of Logistics UK, regarding the banning of lorry parking for more than 45 minutes at a time in laybys across several areas of Kent, which effectively reduces the opportunity for drivers to take the legally required rest period.

No driver would opt for a layby as their first choice for a rest break, we’d always recommend drivers park up in a location which represents a safe and secure stopping point, preferably with easy access to suitable toilet and wash facilities and of course, a good meal. With such a significant shortage of HGV parking facilities in Kent, these drivers have limited options at the moment and while we appreciate Kent County Council don’t want to have lorries blocking laybys, surely more needs to be done to provide these drivers – who are the lifeline to maintaining essential food & drink as well as medical supplies to the UK – with a more fit for purpose parking solution?

As a leading player in the efficient transfer of perishable cargo we believe this is an important industry issue that needs addressing as a matter of urgency.

PML is currently working on a plan to resolve the problems in Kent.

Watch this space ….”

Read the Fresh Produce Journal article in full here: Kent parking row deepens haulage gloom

Fresh food rotting in cold stores due to a Brexit HGV driver shortage

This week, a major British fresh food distributor warned that fruit and vegetables are rotting in cold stores because of a major shortage of HGV drivers.


At Perishable Movements Limited, we’ve been following the story closely and are aware of concerns within the industry.


If your business is facing supply issues as a result of the shortage of HGV drivers then get in touch with our road transport team. We can talk through the problems that you’re facing and offer advice and solutions.

Call us on: 020 8893 2666

Email us via: quotations@pml-ltd.com

Or complete this form and we’ll get back to you:

Here’s the story in full from MSN:

Tim O’Malley, managing director of Nationwide Produce PLC is one of the biggest companies supplying fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and restaurants across Britain. 

He has warned that perfectly good food is being left to rot as there are not enough truck drivers to transport produce across the country. 

The firm, which had a turnover of £144 million in 2018/19, imported 61 per cent of its products from outside the UK. 

In an article in the Fresh Produce Journal, Mr O’Malley has warned that his industry has been hit by Brexit, Covid-19 and changes to the tax system of HGV agency drivers.  

Mr O’Malley wrote: ‘The acute shortage of HGV drivers is now the direct cause of perfectly good, graded and packed fresh produce being dumped or left rotting in cold stores, waiting for wheels to go under it. Supermarket shelves and restaurant plates are going empty, and this is now a crisis of national importance.’

He said hauliers have been forced to call their customers to warn them that due to a shortage of drivers they are unable to deliver their produce, leaving them with little notice. 

He said one major supermarket could not get 22 full loads of produce delivered over last weekend. 

Mr O’Malley said he has had an excellent relationship with his main haulier for many years and said the industry has been warning about the impending shortages for many years.    

He said Britain has been reliant on large numbers of EU drivers who have returned to their home countries instead of remaining in the UK. 

Worse still for the industry, truck drivers are not included on the Government’s list of skilled labour so new arrivals will need immigration paperwork which makes the UK less attractive. 

Also, Covid-19 has seen no new British truck drivers trained within the past 12 months.  

He also said changes in the rules of self employment have seen a 25 increase in agency driver charges, which has a further impact on the cost of a delivery. 

Mr O’Malley said British truck drivers are getting older on average, with 13 per cent over 60 compared with one per cent under 25.  

He said the government has to change the tax rules and add foreign drivers to the skilled migrant list to help avert a crisis. 

He added: ‘If not that, perhaps a spike in fresh produce prices as the industry is forced to pass on the huge increase in all labour costs to the consumer.’ 

Mr O’Malley warned the entire industry was facing crisis and the government needed to take immediate action to avoid having empty supermarket shelves.  

The shortfall of 70,000 HGV drivers in the UK has already seen wages shoot up by 20 per cent and consumers are now being warned that grocery prices could rocket to pay for the drivers’ increased pay.

The shortage of lorry drivers has been fuelled by EU workers going back to the continent during the pandemic.

The introduction of the IR35 rules in April, which ensures agency drivers pay broadly the same Income Tax and National Insurance contributions as individuals who are directly employed, has also pushed wages up by £2 an hour per driver. 

Asset Alliance Group CEO Willie Paterson said he is growing increasingly concerned by the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK. 

He said: ‘Truck drivers were rightly hailed as national heroes for helping to keep the UK moving throughout this Covid-19 pandemic – and yet the industry’s pleas for help in addressing the growing driver shortage continue to go ignored. 

#The lack of skilled HGV drivers – estimated to be about 76,000 – isn’t just a problem for the sector, but the wider economy too, with potential to cause huge disruption to supply chains and the country’s coronavirus recovery.

‘Whilst the recent increase in the funding limit for Large Goods Vehicle apprenticeships is welcome, it just doesn’t go far enough. 

‘The government needs to take this issue seriously, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to make it easier – and more attractive – for new recruits to enter the profession, including resolving the driver test backlog, improving facilities and removing financial barriers such as high insurance and training costs.’

Trusted Bytes project aims to boost supply chain productivity within UK food economy

A boosted supply chain productivity and streamlined regulatory compliance could become established within a new project named the Trusted Bytes Project for an industry wide data exchange system, which will cost £2.8 million and will be funded by Innovate UK. 

The project will connect the fresh produce supply chain with central government and other major partners and will help facilitate the flow of fruit and vegetables across Post Brexit borders and will drive productivity forward within the UK.

Professor Simon Pearson, director of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology at the University of Lincoln, who is involved in the project, said: “Given the changes to UK terms of trade post Brexit, this project is extremely timely. We hope to provide technology to help the flow of the fresh produce trade but also lead innovation to establish the trusted sharing of data in complex supply chains.”

The technology will digitise border transfer processes and provide proof of food provenance, and will allow data exchange and sharing across the food supply chain creating a “trust framework”. Contained Technologies’ BlueRing software is at the centre of the project, and is designed to integrate external systems, such as HMRC, quickly and easily, while Novel telecoms will provide real-time digital connectivity for supply chain operators. A new BSI standard will be developed to enable businesses to automate the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification process. 

The project will deliver a full service that can integrate across multiple ERP systems, from order to compliance and submission. Information will be accessible to all on a data sharing platform that tracks conditions and locations of produce, as well as enabling this data to be easily integrated and shared in companies’ own forms and templates, within their current systems. 

The consortium, led by Produce Logistics, includes leading fresh produce supply chain operators Fesa UK, Worldwide Fruit, Davis Worldwide, Hain Daniels, FreshLinc, and ukFPN Lincolnshire. Angie Stuart of ukFPN Lincolnshire said: “This is a major achievement and another great example of the level of innovation found within the fresh produce industry in South Lincolnshire. We’re super excited to be working on this project with our members and partners.”

It is supported and welcomed by tech companies Contained Technologies UK, British Standards Institution (BSI), and Excelerate Technology. The University of Lincoln, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Manufacturing Technology Centre, and the Satellite Applications Catapult have also extended their support. 

The Cost of Brexit on Fine Wine shipping

Despite the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the transportation of wine to and from mainland Europe and the UK was pretty much a straightforward process in 2020. It required a minimum level of regulatory checks and procedures; haulage firms benefited from the EMCS system, an EU customs database that simplified the shipping process for them.

However, come 1st January 2021 and the changes to the UK/EU trade regulations, this straightforward process has been turned on its head. Philip Cox, owner of Romanian winery Cramele Recas, describes the new regulations as “nightmarish” and “potentially unworkable” for small wineries and UK businesses.

“It is fair to say that the new logistics framework has been a challenge for the industry. Even before Brexit, transporting wine was admin heavy. We required roughly 200 pages of documents to move an average shipment between the UK and EU,” explains Ashley Hopkins, Liv-ex director of operations. Adding “Since 1st January 2021 that admin has multiplied. The original 200 pages are still required, but now a similar sized export will require additional documents such as import declarations etc, resulting in around 800 pages.” 

“It’s not just the paperwork that’s the problem. In order to produce these documents you need certain wine expertise, and you also need to include additional parties such as freight forwarders, all of which adds time and costs to the supply chain.” adds Hopkins.

European wine producers, importers and exporters and major transport firms are all attempting to get their head around this new process. The transportation of goods to and from the UK has become much more time consuming, expensive and difficult. A good example of this is from 1st  January 2021, producers have been forced to ship goods in fumigated and treated stamped wooden pallets, which before 1st January 2021 wasn’t a legal requirement. 

In addition, logistics firms must now use ‘Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) Numbers’. EORI numbers are issued by customs to identify traders throughout the EU and are now an essential legal requirement for UK import and exports. Also, under new VAT rules, the tax is now paid in full at the port of entry to the UK before the goods are released. This is a potential issue for smaller businesses.

“The new post-Brexit trading framework has impacted iDealwine in areas that they didn’t see coming. The additional paperwork was expected, but negotiating new rates and new shipping partners were not,” says Alix Rodarie, head of international development at iDealwine.

“New laws and even seeking advice from legal experts was expected, but legal experts unable to clarify or interpret a number of issues relating to importing wine to the UK was not. Customs declarations and duties payable were expected, but the complexity and number of charges for delivering were not.” Rodarie explains that the firm has been forced to build new logistical and legal relationships again from scratch, and then communicate these changes to their existing clients.

“As I’ve said before, it is now easier for me to sell to Japan than the UK,” adds Philip Cox. “Apart from the expense and time wasting inherent to carrying out a full customs declaration, I now have to include an importer’s label on every bottle, detailing their address, etc. I exported 4 million bottles to the UK in 2019 across 12 different brands. So I would have to produce 12 different versions of the label for each wine. Unfortunately, I’ve ceased exporting to my smaller customers. The new administration costs mean that shipping small volumes is not worth my while. The real victim has been the British consumer.”

With supply chain overheads increasing, producers and importers alike must now weigh up how much of this strain can be willingly shared between the key parties, or if UK consumers should be forced to shoulder the burden of the rising prices.

Some experts are optimistic that the end consumer will not suffer unduly. But equally, there is an opinion across the board that smaller brands may now find exporting prohibitively expensive, leading to fewer niche labels on our shelves.

“Our shipping charges have been altered. We used to be charged per case, which meant that we could ship tiny parcels from some growers. We are now charged per pallet and have a sliding economy of scale – this puts our smallest suppliers at a real disadvantage,” says Siobhán Astbury, buying director at Haynes Hanson & Clark.

“There are certainly some wines that have had to go up by a few pounds per case, but for the moment nothing extreme. We’re getting a slightly better exchange rate now than we were at the end of last year, which also helps cancel things out. But it’s still very early days.”

As with Covid-19, uncertainty surrounds the transition into new trading relationships. At the moment, UK customs are overlooking certain checks on goods to ease companies through the transition period. However, when this gentle approach finishes, its forecast that companies should expect long and costly delays at UK customs and excise. 

Both European and UK businesses are also arguing against the introduction of wine import certificates. This new piece of legislation was written into the Brexit deal to replace the VI-1 forms, which the EU currently use to regulate the import of non-European wines.

“As an industry we are used to VI-1 forms for wines originating outside of Europe and this will remain business as usual (albeit a UK version). One of the sections on the new import certificate form requires a customs stamp, which is likely to add an additional 200 pages and 200 stamps – it’s all getting a bit daft,” says Ashley Hopkins, Liv-ex director of operations. In late March, the government delayed the introduction of the wine import certificates until 1st January 2022. Nevertheless, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale, who has been heavily involved in lobbying the government to remove the regulation from UK law has stated that the threat of an eventual implementation of the forms is still “very real.” It remains to be seen whether they will listen to the argument against this extra step or not.

European ports preparing for the after effects of Suez crisis

In the weeks to come supply chains are preparing for the knock on effects of the Suez Canal blockage with expectations of congestion, delays and increased costs. 

The Institute of Export and International Trade has raised concerns over import surges that are expected to hit European ports following the removal of the Ever Given ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal.

The wedged ship Ever Given was finally freed on 29th March, leaving a trail of around 100 container ships waiting to enter the canal. Although some of those cargo ships would have been empty or headed to other destinations, roughly 52% of the canal capacity each week heads to Europe according to the Institute of Export and International Trade. 

Eleanor Hadland, senior ports analyst at maritime research consultancy Drewry has stated “From our perspective, it is going to be more chaos and more congestion.” The situation is badly affecting the US west coast where a lack of capacity means ships have to anchor for up to two weeks before unloading and In Europe, carriers are being given the option of diverting course to smaller, less busy terminals, Hadland said. 

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations have said that the disruption of the supply chain was expected to “worsen dramatically” over the next coming weeks. They have also stated that this would create “high delays in shipments, increased costs and product shortages.”

Freight and logistics publication Loadstar has reported that currently air freight is currently operating at full capacity, predicting that it will take approximately two weeks for the impact of the crisis to begin to “unravel”. 

“Capacity is already an issue with greater use of air for test kits and vaccines”, said Ekaterina Andreeva, commercial director for Russian air cargo carrier Volga-Dnepr. “We can predict a busy market for a couple of months, but maybe it will lessen over the summer. Rates though could be elevated until the end of the year,” she said.

As the world looks to the cost of the Ever Given blockage, John Neal the CEO of Lloyd’s of London told the Evening Standard that potential losses to the market from the blockage of the Suez Canal would be in the “hundreds of millions” but said that the claims were easier to deal with than they are having to with Covid, which up to this point has cost Lloyd’s £6.2 billion in payouts. 

“It is the very type of loss we are used to,” John Neal said. “It will be quite a big marine claim, but not particularly out of the ordinary.” 

EU Goods Sub Committee report reveals ‘substantial barriers’ since Brexit for UK trade with Europe

A report by the House of Lords’ EU Goods Sub-Committee has warned small firms are “feeling the squeeze” since the Brexit deal with Brussels came into force in January and there remains “substantial barriers” for UK trade with Europe and small businesses bearing the brunt post Brexit.

The committee is calling on ministers to establish a trusted trader scheme to tackle the amount of paperwork that businesses have to complete, whilst also helping with the increased cost of transporting goods and giving firms time to understand the VAT changes when exporting to the EU.

In the Beyond Brexit: Trade in Goods report, it said there “remains substantial barriers to trade with the EU” following the implementation of the fresh trading terms.

It also warned that, without appropriate action, the physical checks currently in situ on plant and animal produce could become a “permanent barrier to trade”, with meat and live shellfish produce worst hit by the new inspection regime.

The committee’s chairwoman Baroness Verma, said:

“The Brexit trade deal struck with the EU may have prevented the nightmare of a ‘no deal’ exit for the UK, but a lot of unfinished business remains between the two sides. Businesses, particularly SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), are feeling the squeeze of the non-tariff barriers resulting from the end of the transition period.

The government must take an ambitious approach to trade ties with the EU. Swift action and further funding is needed to minimise future disruption.

Ongoing dialogue will be crucial to achieving smoother trade. The TCA (Trade and Cooperation Agreement) should be treated as the start, not the end of the UK’s new relationship with the EU.”

The report stated a series of recommendations for clarifying the requirements on exporters.

It stated that “On customs, we recommend a trusted trader scheme to enable more businesses – especially smaller businesses – to benefit from simplified customs procedures,”

The “complicated and varied VAT rules in different EU jurisdictions” were described as “among the most problematic non-tariff barriers to trade”, with the committee asking for “advice and support to increase understanding among traders of new VAT implications”. This is following the government’s decision to delay the release of its own programme.

On rules of origin stipulations, the committee said: “Only goods originating – or mostly originating – in the UK or EU will qualify for zero tariffs. The requirements will hit smaller businesses hardest but clarifications and mitigations, particularly on the re-export of non-processed goods, are urgently needed for all.”

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

“At a moment when small firms are up against it like never before, those that trade internationally – often our most innovative and profitable businesses – are being hit with reams and reams of new paperwork. They simply don’t have the time or money to manage it.

Unless we ease the admin burden being placed on our small importers and exporters it’s going to weigh heavy on our efforts to get the economy firing on all cylinders again.”