Liz Saville Roberts MP calls for more support for small businesses following trade commission session

A Welsh gin company today criticised the UK Government for “dressing themselves up as the party of small business” while hanging them “out to dry”.

David Thomas, co-founder of Carmarthenshire-based gin producer Jin Talog, gave evidence to a hearing of the UK Trade and Business Commission session chaired by Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts MP, where he noted the example of an Irish customer who had to pay €38 (£33) in customs charges and taxes to receive a product – which was almost 100% of the cost of the order itself. Mr Thomas also noted that a shipment to Ireland crossed the Irish Sea five times before getting to the customer.

The Trade and Business Commission is reviewing the impact of the EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement, which came into force in January. Other businesses who provided evidence included Fluorochem, a chemicals supplier based in Derbyshire.

Ms Saville Roberts said that the “clear message” from the session was that the issues faced by small businesses are not “teething problems” but rather “defining features of the new trading relationship”.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP called on the UK Government to “provide additional support” to small businesses and to “do everything in their power to ease some of the most destructive trade barriers”.

Speaking after the session, Liz Saville Roberts MP said:

“Brexit may no longer be hitting the headlines, but small businesses have been feeling the economic impact of the Tories' destructive barriers for months.

“Businesses in several sectors – from chemicals to a Welsh craft gin company – told the UK Trade and Business Commission today that they are already dealing with higher costs and impossibly slow and complicated paperwork. The clear message was that these are not teething problems, they are defining features of the new trading relationship.

“The Tories have inflicted long-lasting damage to Welsh small businesses. They have a duty now to provide additional support. They must also do everything in their power ease some of the most destructive trade barriers businesses are experiencing with our nearest neighbours.”

Speaking after the session, David Thomas of Jin Talog added:
“The problems we’re experiencing aren’t just teething problems. By imposing these destructive trade barriers, the UK Government have rendered our product uncompetitive in our European market, effectively closing us off from our growing number of European customers.
“This disruption has not only affected our sales but also our production. With the majority of our inputs and consumables originating in the EU, our costs and paperwork have increased substantially since January. This is a significant burden on a craft business.
“It is frankly insulting that the UK Government suggest that the plight of small businesses like ours can be offset by gains in new markets the other side of the world. Not only does simple geography make this unrealistic – it goes against our values of sustainability and environmental responsibility. These are valued shared by our customers.
“The Tories may dress themselves up as the party of small businesses – but they have in fact hung us out to dry.”