Virtually all sectors in Belgium which trade with the United Kingdom will feel the impact. As a logistics hub, Belgium may well run the greatest risk. Border formalities lead to longer journey times, more paperwork, higher costs and rising demands from customers. In addition, we also expect a modal shift in some sectors. Short, contractually agreed delivery periods will force some businesses to send more goods by air. Are our logistical actors prepared to play their part in this complex story?
The pharmaceutical industry is a heavily regulated sector with internationally integrated supply chains. The speed of movement of goods is often crucial. Differing regulations and standards form a major challenge. The UK and Belgium are also countries that are highly active in R&D, with a great deal of movement to and fro.
Fast access to the UK market, with minimal trade barriers such as import certificates, is equally a priority for our Belgian businesses in the food industry. Many products have a limited shelf-life and investment costs are high. In view of this, building up extra stock across the channel would not be the first choice scenario.
We are clearly facing a different reality with new challenges. We advise you to follow the negotiations closely to see what they mean for your sector and your range of products - both goods and services. You should also invest in specific expertise, as our projects reveal that the risks are more extensive than we initially thought, ranging from logistical aspects to customs procedures, contractual changes, systemic impact and above all dependence on external business partners such as suppliers and customers.
The Brexit toolkit
The Brexit team at a global player in industrial products tells us about the priorities for the business in its Brexit strategy and approach. These are the three main ones. There are, of course, many other matters that require in-depth consideration, such as logistics.
- Piecing together fragmented data to arrive at an accurate assessment of the risks - financial and operational.
- Identification of the necessary systemic adjustments to guarantee future trade, including adjustments to billing, integration between systems, data corrections and Intrastat, which still applies despite export formalities.
- Customs is another key area, for example, putting in place carriers who are familiar with import and export, identifying and engaging customs agents with capacity and expertise in Belgium and the UK. We also applied for several customs and VAT permits to make the most of the available simplifications. The latter is particularly crucial to guarantee smooth trade flows.