Lincolnshire’s economy chiefs say the region had a “slight dip” in international trade following Brexit but said it was “ramping up again” as councillors feared the impact of new red tape on Tuesday.
A report before the authority’s Economy and Environment Committee on Tuesday examined new plans to support greater “internationalisation” and improve the county’s import and export market.
The report said that in 2020 the region exported around £4.19billion of commodities, down from £5.18billion pre-pandemic – a drop of 19.11% – however, it wasn’t clear how much was due to the UK leaving the EU, or was down to the coronavirus pandemic.
It imported £7.49billion of products, down from £8.55billion – a drop of 14.15%.
Councillor Hilton Spratt said the council was in the best place to facilitate imports and exports, but had limited control over the intervention itself.
However, he said: “From what I read about in the press, or see on TV, it strikes me that since we came out of the EU – for better or worse – a lot of businesses are suffering what I would describe as excessive bureaucracy compared with what was there previously.”
He noted that around 63% of Lincolnshire’s exports go to the EU and questioned whether there had been “any fall off”.
Committee chairman Councillor Martin Griggs also said he imagined business at the moment was “quite scary” following Brexit, the pandemic and other world changes.
The members welcomed work the council was doing to advise businesses in how to improve their export markets.
Samantha Harrison, LCC’s head of economic development, told councillors full data around the trading statistics post-Brexit, had not been released yet.
However, she added: “Information from our international trade advisors say that there was a slight dip, but it was only until people got to be au fait with the new paperwork requirements.”
“There’s been a lot of support for businesses to actually navigate through that process and that once they’ve become familiar, it’s starting to ramp up again,” she said.
Councillors also questioned whether Lincolnshire could trade better further afield, how the carbon neutrality of the region was affected by the trade and how much was going into improving domestic markets.
The report before councillors laid out how the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for International Trade were arranging advisors for local businesses, taking advantage of freeports such as those in the Humber, creating peer to peer networks and utilising technology to share market information easier.