31 July 2020
Many companies have stock in their warehouses on which they have already paid duty but which they have been unable to sell because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to the current absence of any agreement on the matter, if those firms haven't sold such duty-paid produce into Europe by the first of January, they will be forced to pay the very same duty all over again because, of course, the UK will no longer be a part of the European Union.
Even the most conservative estimates for the sums involved run into billions of pounds.
Nevertheless, it could be resolved by introducing an amnesty period for duty-paid goods.
Ministers, though, maintain that the responsibility to do so rests with Brussels and not Westminster.
With time fast running out to tackle the issue before the end of the year, many export businesses and their freight partners have already decided to off-shore their storage provision, setting up warehouse solutions in mainland Europe.
Whilst that may avoid the double duty dilemma - and, therefore, a difficult decision about cutbacks in order to meet the tax bill - it will ultimately result in UK jobs being lost and transferred to the Continent.
Such an entirely avoidable outcome cannot be right.
Simon Reed – Chief Executive