A Week Into Full Brexit, the Pain for U.K. Businesses Has Arrived

Britain started 2021 in a new relationship with its biggest trade partner, and it has immediately brought a litany of headaches and lost business, the New York Times reported. Within a week, implications of the Brexit trade deal with the European Union are being felt by businesses up and down the country as food deliveries are delayed for not having the right customs paperwork, logistics companies halt the shipment of goods, and retailers discover their supply chains might be obsolete. After decades inside the European Union’s customs union and single market, Britain’s businesses have unearthed new challenges and changes every day. For many businesses, this is what Brexit has quickly become: a logistical, regulatory and administrative burden for which they were unprepared. It will only add to the malaise in Britain, where the coronavirus pandemic is raging — last week one in 50 people in England had the virus, and the country is under its third national lockdown. And analysts say the economy is heading for a double-dip recession. Some businesses had put aside efforts to plan for Brexit last year in favor of trying to keep their companies afloat during the pandemic. But even those that tried to prepare faced a fundamental obstacle: an agreement on the trade deal with the European Union wasn’t reached until Dec. 24, and the text of the 1,246-page pact wasn’t circulated until Dec. 26. Other documents, providing full details of how Britain’s border would work, with illustrative examples and flow charts, weren’t published until Dec. 31, the day before the new rules took effect. Read more.