As the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences are about to commence, new analysis underscores the urgent requirement for enhanced backing to assist UK businesses in manoeuvring through a crucial 15-month period filled with new international trade regulations.

A recent study by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) indicates that more than 20 significant policy shifts will affect all UK companies engaged in global trade from now until the close of 2024. 

This timeframe is set to be even more hectic and critical than 2021, a year that saw the EU implement comprehensive customs regulations and inspections on British exports.

The study suggests that successfully navigating this transformative phase will enable UK businesses to capitalise on new global trade agreements and prospects. 

However, to seize this chance, companies must take immediate action to get ready, and decision-makers across the political spectrum must collaborate to make this transitional period fruitful.

Last month, the government unveiled its ambitious new strategy for importing goods into Great Britain through the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM). 

Scheduled for a phased rollout starting in January 2024, BTOM will modify border protocols for incoming food, animal, and plant products. Yet, according to IOE&IT’s evaluation, BTOM is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

A total of 23 major legislative and policy adjustments are on the horizon, affecting businesses either directly or via their supply chains, delivery associates, or freight agents.

Among the imminent changes are the fifth iteration of the New Computerised Transit System, the introduction of the Electronic Trade Documents Act, the EU Import Control System 2, and several revisions to documentation, risk assessments, and health certificates for specific items. 

IOE&IT asserts that considerable time and assistance will be needed to enact these changes, but the rewards promise to be substantial.

As Britain teeters on the edge of a monumental shift in its global business dealings, the Institute of Export & International Trade is presenting this report at Party Conferences. Their unequivocal message is that the business sector requires support, education, and clarity to adequately plan and successfully traverse this pivotal period of transformation.

Marco Forgione, Director General of The Institute of Export & International Trade, said, “The UK’s international trade community is on the launchpad of great change. Such a raft of new measures in so short a period of time is almost unheard of. This presents an enormous opportunity for Britain to reap the benefits of the new trade deals and partnerships we are pursuing around the world. But we need businesses and policymakers pulling together in the same direction.

“From cutting red tape to our new digital borders, these changes are undoubtedly a cause for excitement. But with so much change, there is naturally going to be some apprehension amongst business owners. This is understandable, and there will be a bedding in period – but the potential benefits if we can navigate this period successfully are profound. The digitalisation of UK trade has the potential to add £25bn to the country’s GDP. But that potential cannot be realised without certainty and support. Businesses need to feel confident that they can not only navigate these changes, but that they have sufficient time to prepare so stock levels, deliveries and suppliers aren’t negatively impacted.

“My message to our leaders at Party Conferences this season is clear, 2024 is going to see profound change in how we trade with the rest of the world. We can longer take for granted that businesses are fully aware of all the changes coming into force. It is essential there are no more delays and that we work together to give our business community the best chance to succeed. We have a golden opportunity here for British business to flourish – but they can only reap the rewards of efficient new border systems and trade deals if they are armed with the right skills and knowledge in plenty of time.”

In addition to the whitepaper, IOE&IT has created a set of online questionnaires to help businesses identify which changes will affect them. By filling out these forms, companies will gain access to IOE&IT trade specialists who will offer tailored advice, education, and training to help them through this transition.