Brexit: What happens next?

The UK has left the European Union with a deal agreed on their future trading relationship. What do you need to do now to prepare for this new business world?

Brexit: What happens next?

Our advice

Brexit has happened. While a deal has been agreed, there are significant impacts and implications for Irish businesses. What can you do now to mitigate the risks ahead?

It is time to consider now all of the impacts of Brexit and how the new trading relationship with our nearest neighbour will affect your business. Where there is change, there is opportunity and adjustment to another new normal is critical. Look at all of the scenarios - import substitution, alternative suppliers and new markets - while ensuring you have the skills and resources to meet the new demands.

What are the implications for business?

While it is positive that a Brexit deal has been agreed, understanding and navigating the new rules will put significant pressure on businesses already reeling from the effects of COVID-19.

It is imperative to determine exactly how the new trade terms and the associated supply chain, workforce, trade and tariff changes will affect your business. We have seen how disruption and uncertainty have shaped the economy and your business’ outlook in recent months. 

It is time to take learnings from that experience and build upon the resilience shown during the coronavirus crisis to prepare for what lies ahead.

What actions should I focus on now?

These are the most critical areas you need to deal with now. 

  • Movement of goods - prepare for a new border with new customs requirements impacting all imports and exports and the possible impacts on your supply chain
  • Rules of Origin - understand the new guidelines and how they relate to both exports and imports
  • Movement of people - prepare to deal with new settlement status, work permits and immigration regulations
  • Movement of data - understand your cross-border data flows and your GDPR requirements
  • Regulatory changes - prepare for changes to the regulations that apply to your business
  • Cost implications - determine the impact of new tariffs on your business
  • Northern Ireland operations and cross-border trade  

No-risk actions

Whatever form it takes, Brexit will impact your business and we strongly advise you to prepare now. While there is uncertainty around the final outcome of the process, there are a set of no risk actions that you can take now to ensure that your business is Brexit-ready, particularly if you are engaged in cross-border trade.

Registrations and authorisations

Assess which customs and trade registrations, authorisations and reliefs must be put in place. These enable customs clearance and duty payments. They also meet relevant regulatory licensing requirements and secure available duty reliefs. The engagement of a customs agent or broker will help ease the filing of customs declarations.

An animated GIF of a freight ship being unloaded.

Validate your supply chain

To understand the impact of Brexit, companies need to map and confirm their supply chain models. This will illustrate direct and indirect exposure to customs and compliance tariffs and regulations. A challenge for Irish business is the use of the UK as a land bridge, with products moving through the UK en-route to and from Ireland.

An animated GIF of a world atlas with connected lines.

Invest in customs expertise

Irish companies will need to think strategically about customs and trade. On import and export, there will be a need to file customs declarations for all goods imported and exported to or from the UK. Expert customs and trade knowledge will be essential for day to day operational activities. This is also to building a robust customs function to support products crossing international borders.

An animated GIF of a person using an electronic tablet.

Be an Authorised Economic Operator

There has been commentary about "trusted trader" status, and what this could mean for importers and exporters after Brexit. Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status is a well-established "trusted trader" customs programme. It has been in place in the EU since 2008. After Brexit, AEO could provide for faster customs clearance, providing priority access to companies who have been pre-assessed.

An animated GIF of a hand using an electronic tablet to obtain information.

Assess Brexit-readiness of contracts

Many businesses may find that their current contracts lack provisions to deal with Brexit. For the purposes of customs and trade, and the changing relationship between the UK and the EU, it will be critical to assess all contracts. Focus should be given to determine if the buyer or seller handles fulfilling relevant customs obligations, including the lodging of customs declaration and the payment of customs duties.

An animated GIF of a person examining information on a clipboard.

Have enough cash flow and inventory

Import VAT is a duty of customs. A result of Brexit is that it now poses a cashflow challenge for companies trading cross-border with the UK. Import VAT will be charged at the border when importing goods, in both Ireland and the UK. Cash flow problems will increase for companies that need to hold extra inventory as insurance against potential border delays.

An animated GIF of a hand with a credit card.

Develop a contingency plan

There is no guarantee that border procedures will operate smoothly immediately after Brexit. Companies need a contingency plan to mitigate against any risk of delay when goods enter or leave the country. Customs reliefs available to reduce customs duty payable should be explored as part of any Brexit planning.

An animated GIF of a person examining a plan B on a clipboard.

Check your workforce

Immigration is the one area where a clear picture is emerging. The UK has outlined details of its settlement scheme and temporary residence scheme. Registration for UK citizens will be a big change for employers. Systems and immigration policies will need to be updated. Firms should already have completed an impact assessment on what this could mean for their business.

An animated GIF of people with a line graph behind them.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property protection—including patents, trademarks, registered designs and copyright—could all change after Brexit. The British government says European patents will still apply in the UK. Yet, the UK is "exploring options" in other IP areas, such as trademarks and designs, because in many cases these will lapse after Brexit.

An animated GIF of a map of Great Britain on a computer monitor with a red background and a mobile connecting to it.

Contact us

David McGee

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Susan Kilty

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Enda McDonagh

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Ciarán Kelly

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Follow PwC Ireland