Retailers in the UK are becoming increasingly concerned about trade barriers as delays and backlogs at ports continue to grow.
Despite the trade deal between the UK and EU being described as ‘zero tariff’, many businesses believe they will need to pay taxes in imports and exports of goods not entirely made in the UK.
Some are also struggling to get to grips with new requirements around paperwork.
Some retailers, delivery companies and hauliers have now stopped or paused road deliveries to Europe as a result.
Speaking to Reuters, Marks and Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe, said: “Tariff free does not feel like tariff free when you read the fine print.
“For big businesses there will be time-consuming workarounds but for a lot of others this means paying tariffs or rebasing into the EU.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says it is working with its members to find short-terms solutions, and is attempting to begin talks with the UK and EU on longer-term fixes.
Meanwhile, Scottish seafood exporters are warning the backlogs and delays could spell an end to the industry.
“These businesses are not transporting toilet rolls or widgets. They are exporting the highest quality, perishable seafood which has a finite window to get to markets in peak condition,” said Donna Fordyce, chief executive of Seafood Scotland.
“If the window closes these consignments go to landfill.”
She added: “In a very short time we could see the destruction of a centuries-old market which contributes significantly to the Scottish economy.”
Courier firm, DPD, is one company that has paused its road delivery services to Europe, because of the “increased burden” of paperwork required to transport goods to the EU, including the Republic of Ireland. It said that “incorrect or incomplete data” had been attached to 20% of its parcels, meaning they had to be returned.