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British retailers are concerned at new trade barriers being applied after last month’s trade deal with the EU.
Many traders now believe they will be paying taxes on exports and imports of certain types of food and clothing that are not fully made in Britain.
There are also signs that they are struggling with new paperwork requirements following the post-Brexit deal.
Some parcel companies have suspended road deliveries to Europe as a result.
Britain sealed a trade deal with the European Union (EU) on 24 December that was billed as preserving its zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the bloc’s single market.
But major retailers that use the UK as a distribution hub for European business could face possible tariffs if they re-export goods to the EU.
“Tariff free does not feel like tariff free when you read the fine print,” Marks & Spencer’s chief executive Steve Rowe told Reuters.
“For big businesses there will be time-consuming workarounds but for a lot of others this means paying tariffs or rebasing into the EU.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents more than 170 major retailers, is working with members on short-term options and is seeking dialogue with the government and the EU on longer-term solutions to mitigate the effects of the new tariffs.
The Cabinet Office said it was working closely with business to help them adapt to any new trading arrangements.
Scottish seafood exporters say they have been hit by a “perfect storm” of Brexit disruption, which could sink a centuries-old industry.
“These businesses are not transporting toilet rolls or widgets. They are exporting the highest quality, perishable seafood which has a finite window to get to markets in peak condition,” said Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland.
“If the window closes these consignments go to landfill.”
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She said the sector has already been weakened by Covid-19, the closure of the French border before Christmas as well as “layer upon layer” of problems associated with Brexit.
The group fears that without exports, the fishing fleet will have little reason to go out.
“In a very short time we could see the destruction of a centuries-old market which contributes significantly to the Scottish economy,” added Ms Fordyce.
Lost in the mail
The parcel delivery service DPD UK said it has paused its European Road Service due to the ‘”increased burden” of customs paperwork for packages heading to the EU, including the Republic of Ireland.
DPD said 20% of parcels had “incorrect or incomplete data attached”, which meant they would have to be returned.
media captionWhat Brexit means for Britons travelling, shopping, studying or owning properties in the EU.
In an email to its business customers,