We spoke to Ronan Quigley from the British Chambers of Commerce during the World Trade Summit on 23rd October at The Law Society in London. The event took place amid growing speculation about the prospects of a winter General Election, following the Government’s defeat to its proposed timetable for the passing through of its EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Ronan gave us an overview of the support landscape for UK businesses, post-Brexit and discussed the new version of the Incoterms.

Featuring: Ronan Quigley, Executive Director, Corporate Services, British Chambers of Commerce

Host: Deepesh Patel, Editor, Trade Finance Global

I’m Ronan Quigley. I work for the British Chambers of Commerce. I’m an Executive Director there. I look after trade facilitation. The Chambers of Commerce for hundred years have been involved in helping to get goods across borders, most notably in helping traders with certificates of origin and rules of origin. But more widely not only in trade facilitation but also in helping them with supporting traders get to markets for the very first time. So that’s more on the trade promotion side.

Great. So on that trade facilitation side, what does the British Chamber of Commerce offer its members?

So as I mentioned, it’s particularly certificates of origin which are very important tools, quality assurance for getting goods across borders, particularly at times when there’s increased global strife. It’s really important that you’ve got all your documentation correct. Chambers of Commerce in the UK, are recognised globally as being at the top of the tree in terms of providing this sort of support for traders.

So let’s talk about Brexit, and in particular, how some of the documentation could change for businesses. What could change?

I don’t know for sure, because I think like many people, we do not yet know what the flavour of Brexit will be. So, if we were in our existing arrangements with the existing EU 27 then obviously there is no need for paperwork as such. But if we have a changed relationship, and it’s not a closed customs union, then on guardedly the paperwork and the procedures will increase. So firstly, obviously with Rules of Origin, they not only impact on our existing EU 27 partners, but they also affect around the world. And bear in mind that although we talk about Brexit in the context of our relationship with the EU 27 countries, we also will note that there will be an impact for countries around the world are called third countries. And depending on whether or not we are able to sustain our was called existing trade relationships, then the rules of origin may change for those as well.

Correct. So, Brexit, obviously it’s giving a lot of uncertainty for businesses and for many of your members, what are the key concerns that businesses are coming to the British Chamber of Commerce about?


So you’re right to say that Brexit is the most important matter for both international traders, and for UK traders in terms of uncertainty right now. In our recent survey of our business members that came top of the list. So the sort of things that are concerned obviously, are the additional paperwork, what that will that be? In addition, what will the tariff arrangements be? Those are incredibly complex in their own right. Brexit is having an effect on our currency sterling. So there are fluctuations in sterling, depending on what people’s perception about the outcome of the Brexit arrangements will be. All of those are just sort of the top three considerations for business.

Let’s talk about trade tariffs and rules. So Incoterms 2020, that was very recently been released and is important for buyers and sellers to be fully on board, particularly with the potential of Brexit? Why do these rules impact businesses? And more importantly, what should businesses be doing and thinking about right now with respect to incoterms?

So I’ll start first with the tariffs as you raise that first. So tariffs are, what the charges will be particularly around duties from businesses that are importing or exporting goods. If you like it, when you’ve got a trade agreement, Free Trade Agreement, it’s not really a free trade agreement. And these tariffs give you a discount on some of the duties that would otherwise apply. So for businesses that have never come across them before, it’s getting used to those tariffs, finding out the tariffs that are particularly relevant to their types of business. And that is not straightforward. It can be quite a complex process. It’s a big documentary about 1500 pages, the Tariff Schedule. But you don’t need to go through the whole 1500 pages, you need to focus on those that are only relevant to your business, you may need a bit of support and actually identifying those. And in Chambers of Commerce, you will find experts who could help you with that. So that’s tariffs. And as I said, a lot more to hear on that based on whatever regions we have with the EU 27. And what agreements we reach with other countries where we currently have free trade agreements, and on incoterms. So it’s great. These are if you like the terms of trade for a lot of goods and services right now. And they have been a stalwart and the basis for commercial agreements and they are central to businesses, understanding what their contractual obligations will be now and in the future. So there’s been a tiny update recently. The incoterms are issued, not every year. So we welcome this introduction. I know colleagues at the International Chambers of Commerce, UK, and indeed worldwide are supporting this because bear in mind, incoterms are international documentation, and therefore, it’s understood and accepted worldwide. So we believe this will be helpful for business. And yes, you will need to study them carefully in the context of Brexit as well. Because depending on the terms that you have arranged, your responsibilities may differ subsequent to Brexit.

Incoterms 2020

Thank you. And with regards to international trade, what support does BCC offer businesses to help them grow their trade lines? And what can you go into more detail on the benefits of these businesses?

So what I’ve mentioned on the trade facilitation side that we already have been providing certificates of origin to businesses for 100 years. We’ve just launched a new service called Chamber Customs. And that will help businesses prepare customs declarations. And that’s very useful in the context of Brexit. But it’s also useful I think because we’re changing legislation irrespective of Brexit. The quality assurance required in preparing customs declarations will increase. And chambers want to be there to support traders with that. So as well as that then so on the prospecting side, the chambers of commerce, British Chambers of Commerce has expanded its global network. So we have got 53 accredited chimaeras representing the whole of the UK. We now have just as many around the world and this is really brilliant particularly, we have recently gained approximately 25 Chambers in the European area. That’s important because what we want to emphasise. It is a really important irrespective of what’s happening at the governmental level, irrespective of what’s happening in the discussions about the terms of trade and Brexit. Businesses do business with businesses. And we’re trying to build those things separate chamber level across AU, but also worldwide. We think that it is constantly coded to us that one of the key things that would support traders, in expanding their international trade is actually having a network to make introductions to businesses across the globe. And so we believe that this will be a key extra resource for businesses in achieving that

Ronan thank you for joining us on Trade Finance Talks TV. It’s been a pleasure to have you onboard.