Most firms that export only to the EU do not have the paperwork they need to carry on their business after a no-deal Brexit, government figures analysed by the Liberal Democrats suggest.
The Liberal Democrats said the statistics showed that no deal, which increasingly seems to be the outcome ministers think is most likely, would be a “wholly irresponsible political choice”.
But their analysis was disputed by the government, which claimed that, even though only a minority of firms have already acquired the right documentation, these are the firms responsible for the bulk of exports to the EU.
After the UK leaves the EU, firms that trade with their EU counterparts will need an economic operator registration and identification (EORI) number to comply with customs rules.
Firms that export and import beyond the EU already have an EORI number, but registration has become a pressing issue for the 245,000 who trade internationally only within the EU. A no-deal Brexit would be particularly difficult for them because, instead of having current rules apply during a transition, they could find their trading opportunities shut down after 31 October without an EORI number. [...]
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