Exporters in Dorset are being urged to take advantage of help available after the release of new trade figures.
The ONS UK-EU statistics for January 2021 showed a drop of 40 per cent.
Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Suren Thiru said: “While changes in data collection limit historic comparisons, the significant slump in UK exports of goods to the EU, particularly compared to non-EU trade, provides an ominous indication of the damage being done to post-Brexit trade with the EU by the current border disruption.
“The practical difficulties faced by businesses on the ground go well beyond just teething problems and with disruption to UK-EU trade flows persisting, trade is likely to be a drag on UK economic growth in the first quarter of 2021.
“Although the postponement of import checks will help avoid exacerbating the current disruption, there must be a greater focus on long-term solutions to improving the flow of UK-EU trade. Offering tax credits to support firms to adapt to the new arrangements would help many address new burdens and requirements better.”
Dorset Chamber Chief Executive Ian Girling said: “We’ve seen a reduction in exports within our international trade team and we our doing our best to help businesses overcome problems and get goods moving again.
“We certainly saw stockpiling before Christmas due to the uncertainty of Brexit and movements in and out of ports were certainly down.
“There have also been issues around VAT and duty and health certificates and there have also been issues with perishable goods. Many businesses are trying to work through these issues and won’t begin exporting until they are addressed.
“Working with Dorset LEP, Dorset Chamber offers a free EU transition support service to businesses through the Dorset Gateway, helping businesses work through these issues and signposting to solutions.”