This week the UK announces trade deals with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, giving a major boost for trade, however lorry driver shortages could mean higher prices in shops. Plus, GOV.UK share the new summary of the UK’s current relationship with the EU, as governments push for EU citizens to apply for the Settlement Scheme.
EU citizens: 30 days to register to stay in the UK legally
Governments urge EU citizens who have been living in the UK since before 31 December 2020 and who want to continue to live, work and study in the UK, to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 deadline.
João Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the United Kingdom said, “5 million people have already applied to the scheme. But a high number of applications are still coming in”. Applying late may lead to the temporary loss of rights, like access to healthcare or the right to work. Not applying at all will lead to the permanent loss of these rights.
The European External Action Service (EEAS) have free leaflets offering general information, and offer free legal advice surgeries to support individuals with complex backgrounds. Book via their website, EU Citizens' Rights (eurights.uk).
Summary: The UK’s new relationship with the EU
GOV.UK have released a policy paper summarising the UK’s new relationship with the EU now the transition period has now ended. The summary covers travelling to the EU, living, working or moving to the EU, importing and exporting goods to the EU and moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
For businesses and citizens across the UK, there are actions you may need to take. For comprehensive guidance, visit www.gov.uk/Brexit
UK announces trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein
Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have signed post-Brexit trade deals with the UK, the government has announced. The deal was agreed in principle on 4 June, and is said to be “the most advanced free trade deal signed by the three countries to date”, boosting digital sectors and slashing tariffs.
British firms exporting to Norway and Iceland will save time and money by using electronic documents, contracts and signatures when moving goods across borders. Imports are also being cut as high as 277% for some cheese exports to Norway. Lowered import tariffs on shrimps, prawns and haddock will reduce costs for UK fish processing, which is said to help support around 18,000 jobs in Scotland, East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire.
Other benefits of the deal include caps on international mobile data roaming charges, simpler visa processes, recognition of qualification in partner countries, and clearer rules for financial services firms. British businesses will also be able to bid for more government contracts in partner countries worth some £200 million a year.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said, “Today’s deal will be a major boost for our trade with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, growing an economic relationship already worth £21.6 billion, while supporting jobs and prosperity in all four nations at home”.
Lorry driver shortage could mean higher prices in shops
Lorry firms are facing a shortage of drivers over Brexit and Covid-19 restrictions. Carmarthenshire-based haulier, Owens Group, said it had lost 50 drivers to Brexit, as their EU workers were unable to meet the new immigration system as skilled workers (BBC News). Ian Jarman from the Group said, “In the pandemic we were seen as an important industry keeping the deliveries going in the UK, if it doesn't improve in the coming months there could possibly be delivery shortages”.
Other importers and retailers are already seeing these effects, with transit times “dramatically increased”, causing stock prices to rise as products are starting to be rationed. Post-Brexit paperwork changes are also held responsible for the empty shelves, as wine importer Daniel Lambert said, "I'm aware of a major haulier who has 550 containers of wine waiting in Belgium to come to the UK, but they can't because the paperwork isn't right”.
Furthermore, due to Covid-19 restrictions last year, about 30,000 HGV driving tests were lost, adding to the 60,000 HGV drivers from the EU who lost their jobs due to the new immigration system. The UK government are currently working with haulier companies to promote jobs, and encourage HGV driver training, however many employers, including Mr Jarman, want HGV drivers to be classed as skilled and eligible for work visas.