Businesses want government to clarify Brexit effect on trade

Chamber of Commerce in urgent meeting with Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi in a bid to unravel the effect the EU/UK trade deal will have have on Maltese businesses

David Xuereb
David Xuereb

The Chamber of Commerce yesterday held an urgent meeting with parliamentary secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi in a bid to clarify exactly how the new UK/EU trade deal will actually affect Maltese businesses.

BusinessToday is informed that many businesses – and consumers – have been left confused as to how the free trade deal that came into effect on 1 January will actually affect the importation of goods from the UK, with many lamenting the lack of updated and clear information.

David Xuereb, president of the Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that yesterday’s meeting with the parliamentary secretary was called to allay members’ confusion and clarify any misconceptions.

“Unfortunately, there has been no clear message as to how the trade deal will affect businesses that import goods from the UK,” he said. “The little information that has been released thus far has been confusing or incomplete.”

Xuereb said that, as agreed at yesterday’s meeting, a clarification webinar is being organised next week for all interested parties.

The agreement actually includes various technical documents, with mechanisms and procedures that still need to be developed over the next weeks and months.

It is understood that the Customs Department has been working on the free trade agreement document once it was published on Christmas Eve in a bid to provide a clear roadmap to businesses and individuals importing goods from the UK.

The department is still awaiting a response to some of its own queries, but its interlocutors themselves have as yet to fully unravel the technicalities in the deal.

“The Chamber is taking a front role to ensure that all necessary information is disseminated to our members and the general public as soon as this is made available,” Xuereb said. “We will also be honest where necessary and will make it clear when further clarifications may be needed.”

He said that many Chamber members were left frustrated at the failure of the authorities to clearly explain the changes that came into effect on 1 January.

That same confusion was evident among consumers as well, as they took to social media and the interner in a bid to determine if they will now incur additional costs if they buy something from the UK.

Unfortunately, local online sources seem to be lacking updated information, with even the Customs Department failing to explain exactly what changed on 1 January and how these changes will affect businesses and consumers.

Attempts by this newspaper to reach the customs department proved futile by the time we went to print.

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