Through the power of the Chamber, the voice of its members is being amplified as the leading business support organisation shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by businesses following the end of the Brexit transition period and maintains pressure on decision-makers and policymakers to resolve issues.

In January, the volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit, the Observer newspaper revealed.


The Black Country Chamber of Commerce CEO Corin Crane said, “Whilst some firms that import and export have seen a fairly smooth transition, a huge majority of businesses the Chamber are speaking to are experiencing major problems.


After a fairly quiet January, we worry that these issues will increase over February and March and new regulations and checks coming in between April and June could make this worse. 

“We are encouraging the government to work with business groups to identify the most significant blockages and publish plans to resolve. We support working with EU partners to minimise issues and push back the additional checks in April and July and we are encouraging a Tax Credit system to allow firms to offset their adaptation costs for new requirements.”

According to the House of Commons library, UK exports to the EU were £294bn in 2019 (43% of all UK exports) while UK imports from the EU were £374bn (52% of the total). The overwhelming majority of exports to the EU from the UK go through ports rather than by air.

In recent weeks hundreds of UK companies have decided either to halt exports to the EU or to set up warehouses or subsidiaries within the EU so they can distribute goods more easily. Ministers say most of the Brexit-relating issues facing businesses are “teething problems”, although Michael Gove has accepted that those affecting Northern Ireland are more serious.

Meanwhile, businesses across the West Midlands region are experiencing big delays in exporting to Europe or having goods returned to the UK due to problems with paperwork and VAT payments.


One Black Country-based company, who bring steel goods over to the UK from their parent company in Germany on a fixed-price contract with a German-based logistics company, have been told that the contract may now be cancelled as ‘bringing goods into the UK was tying up their vehicles for far too long and that they no longer wanted the hassle and costs involved.’


Plus, if the company ‘wanted to continue moving the goods they were looking to increase the cost from 1000 Euros to 2500 Euros for the same load and journey.’

Another business has reported experiencing difficulties in what appears to be a complete block on shipping to the UK by China and other countries.  

The only shipping lines accepting new bookings are charging $ 10000 USD + for containers that were costing $ 1500 USD. Chinese shipping lines are mostly refusing to accept bookings to the UK for containers, stating that the UK is now a ‘special place’ and concerns over potential delays in port. 


Meanwhile, a Black Country exporter of scrap metal said that one of their European hauliers has stated that their prices will be going up and that they are 'not particularly looking for UK work anymore.’

“We sent out our first load of Aluminium UBC (Used Beverage Can), the truck was loaded and left our site on Friday 8th January, the truck only arrived at its destination for unloading on 20th January, some 12 days later,” said the business owner.

“Pre Brexit the transit time was 48 hours. The delay was at import and border control in the Netherlands, the general feedback I am getting from the hauliers are that there are simply not enough customs agents both in the UK and Europe to handle the quantity of extra paperwork which is required.


"Also, the hauliers seem to be having to train the customs agents in how to correctly fill in the paperwork, there seems to be a general lack of understanding from customs officials.

“The second load we have shipped to a company in Germany, this truck was loaded and left our works on Friday 15th January, currently the truck is stuck at import / border control in Germany.


"They are refusing to allow the import into Germany because they are asking for a certificate of conformity, we have tried to explain to the customs agents in Germany that there is no certificate of conformity because we are shipping scrap aluminium which will be melted by the German company, we are not shipping a finished product so there is no CE marking and therefore nothing for our load to confirm to.


"The German company have told me that they import from the USA and South America and have never been asked to produce this document before. So, this truck is currently stuck and incurring extra charges. It will probably be that we will have to bring this load back to the UK.

“On any normal week we would be shipping up to 10 trucks per week, as at the end of January we shipped 2, with only 1 reaching its end destination.”

The Black Country Chamber is available to help businesses, they are in constant dialogue with policymakers. If you are experiencing issues, please contact the team on 0330 024 0820 or email


Whether a business is new to trading internationally or an experienced exporter, the team can help develop a strategy that’s right and help the process of doing business easier.

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If you would like to find out how the Black Country International Trade team can help your business expand overseas, then please get in touch via email: or telephone: 0330 024 0820 

Alternatively, visit our website to find out more.

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