At least one old hand warned that Brexit hasn’t been a success for either side, before his colleagues closed the deal.
A few minor steps remained but Brexit essentially came to an end on Tuesday 27th April 2021. The European parliament voted by 660 votes to 5 (32 abstentions) to approve the UK-EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
The EU commission president talked of “The TCA marking the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK.” Boris Johnson said we should “Look forward to the future.” Positive soundbites but not from all involved.
EU representatives insisted on adding a resolution to the agreement, describing Brexit as an “historic mistake”. This went on to suggest that opportunities for Britain’s largely service based economy would be “vastly reduced”.
The following years have not entirely supported that view, although trade in real terms is down in both goods and services. The breadth of trade has suffered more, with smaller businesses unwilling, or unable to cope with fresh needs.
Changing The Mood
Whilst the UK played a part, the long serving Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, pointed out that Brexit had also been an EU failure. Neither side helped by four years of negotiations showing more acrimony than cooperation.
Britain’s half century of EU membership has however ended and there is no purpose to mistrust. The focus of both administrations needs to move from potential sanctions, to how we benefit from each other’s strengths.
An EU minister involved in taking matters forward stated that the vote was an insurance policy, against the UK breaking faith. The UK government is equally reticent about anything which involves us in EU regulation.
Both sides may need to be vigilant but also share what we can, from mutual economic initiatives, to natural resources. For the success of all involved, a friendly, internationalist approach makes sense.
The Role Of ATA Carnets
An ATA carnet is a rare document, arising from an international agreement which has flourished and lasted. Member countries have found that easing the path for temporary exports removes barriers to business.
This supports trade directly and assists in promotional work. Facilitating attendance at global trade exhibitions, or large sporting events are well known uses, although carnets work at a smaller scale.
A UK specialist service provider needed to invest in an ATA carnet 4 years ago, quite a slice of the £1200 + travel they charged a company in Israel. Since that time, they have invoiced the same group for £130,000.
That four person business made a link in a hassle free, relatively low cost way, which reaped benefits. The same can apply to corporate bodies, creative industries, anyone wishing to take their business forward.
Taking The Opportunity
Parts of the TCA have not helped either party, with checks and additional admin hindering trade. The initial trade crash following the TCA was quickly overcome but later figures still show a fall in both directions.
We need to continue to push our representatives and work with colleagues in Europe. The initial effect of Brexit was evident, yet we could still look to the future and continue to rebuild a sound relationship.
Lawmakers see the trade deal as about sanctions, a tool to keep other in check, we do not need to join in. Most of our business partners simply want to talk about finding solutions and moving on together.
If everyone in Europe make this their clear wish, more aspects can become like an EU ATA carnet. A little extra admin may be unavoidable but cooperation should lead decisions, to stimulate business and friendship.