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Innovation: Brexit and Online Shopping

An interesting article by Paulo Vasconcelos Freitas – JM Madeira

The outcome of the transition period for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is not yet certain. There is so much uncertainty at the moment (the 31st of December 2020 is the date scheduled for the end of the transition), that no one can predict what will happen from the 1st of January 2021, especially concerning the movement of goods between the EU and the UK.

Negotiations are still taking place and we hope that sense will prevail in the final agreement. Although the exit process started on the 1st of February 2020, many have still not got used to the idea of seeing a member of the former European Economic Community (EEC) leave the collective fold of the European Union.

This separation will have inevitable implications for the European economic market, especially in the way we shop online. This is a habit that we have surprisingly adapted to and we may have to review and reconsider this process as within days of the end of the transition period many of us still do not fully understand how new procedures will apply.

In recent days, the news about the uncertainty of the outcome of the future agreement has triggered an abnormal flow of goods from English ports, due mainly to avoid one of the inevitable consequences, namely, that if an agreement is not signed by the end of the year, the application of import taxes on purchases from the UK to Europe and vice versa.

We have become accustomed to placing orders on eBay, Ali Express or Amazon, preferentially selecting purchases from European partners, to avoid the delays and costs of customs procedures and clearances.

Many of the items we order originate in China and Hong Kong, and are processed in warehouses based in the United Kingdom, in order to facilitate entry into the European space, since the UK has special and privileged commercial agreements with its former colony, Hong Kong. And of course this will end if there is no Brexit agreement.

Amazon UK issued a statement to its European customers, warning about the possibility of additional costs on items purchased or returned after January 1, 2021, due to the imposition of customs duties, something that had never happened before. Although, the English option is the one that offers the greatest range of products, it is not recommended to use this outlet during this period of uncertainty but instead choose one of the available European countries. Since Portugal does not yet have its own store, Spain or another country member of the European Union would be an alternative.

The same is true of eBay, or Ali Express, which allow the choice of the country of origin of the products.

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