Britain is facing trade chaos despite the Tories’ Brexit deal, experts warn.
Firms are likely to be wrapped up in so much red tape that they will find it easier to pay tariffs.
In days there will be new custom checks on goods traded between us and the EU, in spite of the 11th hour Christmas Eve pact.
Night, it was feared the scale and complexity of bureaucracy for European markets may create instant trade barriers.
The dire warnings from the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank came as Christmas Day’s 5,000-lorry jam of trucks waiting to cross to France appeared to ease.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said by 9am Saturday all hauliers had left Manston airfield – used to manage disruption in Kent caused by France’s travel and partial trade ban.
He said 15,526 coronavirus tests were carried out on drivers, with 36 positive results which “are being verified”. The 1,600 lorries waiting to cross to France could join a queue on the M20.
IPPR’s Marley Morris said: “While maintaining the tariff-free trade we had before Brexit, the deal will not prevent new customs checks and regulatory barriers for business in a few days’ time.
“This could be so hard to do that businesses find it easier to simply pay tariffs.
“In the short-term we can expect serious disruption at the border as firms adjust.
“In the long-term, our economy will adapt – but it will likely do so by trading much less with the EU. As a result, we can expect a slower economic recovery from the coronavirus recession, as well as higher prices in the shops.”
The fudged deal lifted the looming threat of tariffs and quotas on £668billion of imports and exports but not that of more red tape.
Businesses will have to abide by new “rules of origin” and self-certify the origin of EU exports. Scotland’s salmon industry reported a new rule for tens of thousands of export health certificates will add £1.3million to its costs each year.
Tavish Scott, of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, said: “It is up to the UK Government to now deliver on their numerous promises that Brexit will help the economy. We are all watching.”
The National Farmers’ Union said it was waiting for details on what Boris Johnson ’s agreement meant for agriculture, which underpins more than £14billion of sales each year to the EU.
Its president, Minette Batters, said: “We do anticipate that there will still be disruption to trade at the border. New checks, paperwork and requirements on traders will add costs and complexity.”
While Number 10 crowed about the deal being “fantastic news for businesses in every part of the UK”, Mr Morris warned that its “damaging impacts will not be evenly felt across the country”.
Farmers will benefit from zero tariffs and zero quotas on their exports. But consignments will have to have health certificates and undergo sanitary controls.
Services industries, which make up around 80 per cent of the UK economy, also fear being impacted after being largely ignored in talks centred on fishing and goods.
Mr Morris, IPPR’s associate director for immigration, trade and EU relations, said areas heavily reliant on trade with the EU, such as farming, car makers and chemical manufacturers, are likely to be the hardest hit.
He added: “Given the limited provisions for services in the final deal, the dominance of the UK’s finance sector is also at risk.
“Industries which do little trade with the EU such as hospitality and construction will be relatively safe but continue to face their own challenges due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“As IPPR analysis has shown, some of the most at-risk areas are in Wales and the North East of England, which heavily rely on exporting goods to the EU. Perhaps the greatest winner is Northern Ireland, which maintains many of the benefits of trade with both the EU and the UK.
“And while trade is vital for London, the capital is likely to bounce back quicker than elsewhere.
“Ultimately, this deal will be a major blow for the Government’s hopes of ‘levelling up’ the country.”