As a company in the UK renewable energy sector adapting to the UK’s post-Brexit status, Dulas has had its own fair of share of experiences to report on during the first whirlwind months of implementation.
With the final terms of the post-Brexit trade agreement being settled only at the eleventh hour, it was inevitable that there would be some teething problems. The deal was signed on 24 December 2020, leaving only a week left on the clock to close out the one-year transition period that followed the UK’s official withdrawal from the EU. Although some preparations had been carried out prior to the deal being completed, there were plenty of loose ends still to be tied up. Whilst there have undoubtedly been challenges, particularly around the flow of goods across borders, there have also been some unexpected positives along the way.
Although the headline-grabbing lorry queues quickly disappeared, there are still some barriers to the free flow of goods and services. Dulas’s experience, based mainly on contracts in Ireland, has been that official bodies — particularly in the EU — have adopted a cautious approach to their paperwork and are at pains to ensure every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ crossed. Dulas believes this reflects some uncertainty in interpreting the finer points of the new trading rules, and we are hopeful that attitudes will ease as the new system beds in, although there are still some real concerns about the Irish border and the extent to which UK border checks will go down the same route as their EU counterparts after grace periods expire.
A renewables service company like Dulas does not have fresh produce or perishable goods to ship, so we have not faced the same degree of challenges as those operating in such markets. So far, our access to European markets hasn’t been unduly limited as a result of Brexit, especially when compared to the impact of the pandemic, but we have re-registered Dulas’s Irish legal business entity to help smooth out any possible problems.
One positive effect of Brexit for Dulas is that it has been the catalyst behind our exploring new ways to access to global markets. It has been good to discover what can be achieved by working with the newly created Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), an organisation born of a merger between the old Department for International Development and the FCO. There is also tangible assistance available from the venerable Department for International Trade (DiT). It is notable that the commitment to these organisations by Whitehall seems to be concerted and determined, and is continuing to ramp up further. This is reflected in positive experiences in 2021 we have had with both of these governmental organisations, which have extended courteous and professional help in finding opportunities in overseas markets.
For all these reasons, and in the knowledge that a huge proportion of current trading difficulties are as related to the pandemic as they are to Brexit, Dulas are cautiously optimistic that in time the benefits of the new arrangements will bear fruit.