LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government and businesses will not be prepared for the end of a transitional period of European Union membership regardless of whether talks to get a trade deal are successful, the Institute for Government (IfG) think tank said on Tuesday.
London and Brussels are attempting to thrash out a last-minute trade deal to protect nearly a trillion dollars of trade from disruption at the start of next year when EU rules on everything from customs to pet passports will cease to apply.
Britain has ruled out delaying the end of this transition period beyond Dec. 31 despite having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic which has sucked up government resources and presented huge unforeseen challenges for businesses.
The IfG report said there was not enough time for businesses to get ready for new trading rules, nor for the government to firm up processes for trade passing between EU member Ireland and British province Northern Ireland.
“Disruption in January is inevitable,” said Maddy Thimont Jack, associate director at the IfG.
“At any point, this would pose a steep challenge for the government, but the pandemic makes it so much harder. Ministers will need to be prepared to make difficult decisions about where to prioritise resources come January.”
With time running out to ratify any deal, Britain and the EU have so far failed to reach agreement on three of the most persistent sticking points in their talks.
Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison
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