Graeme Smith, chief executive of Jersey Business, has warned firms against complacency and said that they could be impacted, perhaps unexpectedly, by new trade barriers and bureaucracy that came into force following the end of the transition period on 31 December.
He encouraged businesses, particularly outside the finance sector, to use the ‘Brexit checklist’ on his organisation’s website to help make sure that they are ready for the new environment.
The UK and Jersey’s rules for doing business with the EU changed with effect from 1 January, and while tariff-free trade in goods was maintained by the trade agreement that was reached, extra bureaucracy and other barriers can be expected.
Meanwhile, EU nationals coming to the Island for the first time now need a visa to work, study or settle, and they will be subject to criminal checks as part of this process. Mr Smith said businesses outside the finance sector would in particular need to be mindful of the new regimes.
‘From a non-financial service perspective what I’d encourage all businesses to look at is their whole supply and sale chain,’ he said.
‘Businesses may think, well it doesn’t impact me because I don’t sell to Europe. But then if you look at their goods, do any parts of it come from Europe to the UK then to Jersey for example?
‘It may also be staff recruitment. If you’re rebuilding from the pandemic and you rely on staff coming from the EU are you prepared for this?
‘I would encourage all businesses to use the Brexit checklist, which is on our and the government’s websites, and is an excellent tool to start to look at all aspects of their operations, understand where the potential issues are and to prepare as much as possible.’
He added: ‘It was quite difficult when businesses were in survival mode due to Covid to think too much about Brexit but it’s here now. Some businesses don’t think it will impact them, but actually, can they be sure?’
Mr Smith said that he felt the finance sector was better placed to deal with the post-Brexit world having not been tied to the EU before and due to its experience dealing on the international scene.
‘If you look at most of the trust companies, fund administrators and banks they have operations all over the world in multi jurisdictions and have experience of different regulators and jurisdictions,’ he said.
‘They are world class in understanding the different marketplaces and how to operate in them. So, Jersey’s got all this strength in that area.’