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Welsh exporters must act now to avoid fines and damaging disruption

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Welsh firms which sell to EU countries face hefty fines and disruption to their operations unless they get their business affairs in order now, according to one of Wales’ leading independent accountancy and financial planning firms.

Bevan Buckland LLP is warning that now the Brexit transition period has come to an end, most UK and EU sellers will have to apply for additional VAT numbers to continue selling in 2021, if they don’t want to face fines.

More than 60 percent of Welsh exports go to the EU and this figure is far higher in key Welsh industries, such as farming and fishing. Around 40 percent of Welsh lamb is exported, with 92 percent of those exports going to EU countries, so it is vital that companies of all types have a very clear picture of this and other new requirements for selling their goods to the EU.

Harri Lloyd Davies, Bevan Buckland LLP

Harri Lloyd Davies, Partner at Bevan Buckland LLP, said: “We are now in a changed landscape and if companies haven’t done enough to prepare, they will need to work quickly if they don’t want to see their exporting business undermined. While the new trade agreement places no tariffs or quotas on goods traded between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021, it may come with additional costs and bureaucracy as the UK is no longer part of the single market and customs union. There is potential for businesses to branch out to new markets outside the EU, but that comes with a new set of rules and procedures to navigate now the transition period has ended.

“One very important point to be aware of is that sellers with non-business customers around the EU may need to VAT register in those countries, whereas in the past they may have been able to take advantage of the distance selling threshold simplification. So, many sellers have been able to sell to each EU state, charging and reporting the VAT via their home-country VAT registration. Sellers can no longer take advantage of these thresholds. Instead, they must VAT register in each target country, or face triggering immediate fines or the stoppage of goods.”

EU customs authorities will also challenge firms now if they are not supplying an EU VAT number when importing goods. Harri adds: “In order to move goods between the UK and other countries, businesses need an economic operator registration and identification (EORI) number. You can apply for one on the Government’s website.  Another important thing to consider is how you plan to deal with customs declarations. These need to be made whenever you import or export goods between the UK and other countries.

“According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), UK companies exported around £689 billion in goods and services in 2019, and it is clear that many firms are focusing sharply upon the future – whether this involves trade with the EU or not. If you foresee your business going international over the next few years, there are steps you must take to prepare above and beyond your usual market research. You will need to get to grips with the process involved in selling in different countries. These processes can be complex, and it is very important that you seek professional guidance, so you know you have dotted every i and crossed every t.”

Harri says: “We know exporters’ priorities have shifted as a result of Brexit, and according to research from the Federation of Small Businesses, the US is the most important individual country for UK SMEs to trade with over the next three years, with 46 percent of small exporters choosing it as a priority. The UK also signed a new free-trade agreement with Japan in October, which is expected to boost UK-Japan trade by £15 billion, with potential opportunities for UK companies in technology, energy, life sciences and more. The Government’s aim is to secure free-trade agreements with countries covering 80 percent of UK trade by 2022. However, the EU is expected to remain the most important trading bloc for UK SMEs. To find out which rules apply to the country you’re exporting to, you can use the Department for International Trade’s digital tool – ‘Check duties and customs procedures for exporting goods’. I would urge business owners to do this now.”

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Bevan Buckland LLP is the largest independent accountancy firm in Wales providing practical support and strategic accounting, tax and financial planning advice for small to medium sized businesses. Headquartered in Swansea, the firm has offices in Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock, Haverfordwest and St David’s.

For more information visit: www.bevanbuckland.co.uk

(Lead image: Chanaka / Pexels.com)


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Welsh and UK Governments agree to establish Freeports in Wales

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The Welsh Government has reached agreement with the UK Government on the establishment of Freeports in Wales.

Welsh Ministers have agreed to support Freeport policies in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement to meet the Welsh Government’s demands that UK Ministers provide at least £26m of non-repayable starter funding for any Freeport established in Wales, which represents a parity with the deals offered to English Freeports.

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The UK Government have agreed to meet a number of other demands – including that both Governments will act on the basis of a ‘partnership of equals’ to deliver any Freeports in Wales.

In addition, both Governments have agreed a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated clearly it will operate in a manner that aligns with the Welsh Government’s policies on fair work and environmental sustainability, including the commitment to Wales becoming a net-zero carbon nation.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Following considerable engagement between our Governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK Ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales, and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.

“However, we have made it clear to the UK Government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.

“I very much hope that the UK Government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”

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The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said: “I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.

“The UK Government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.

“Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.”

In addition, Welsh and UK Ministers have agreed that the UK Government will provide tax incentives for Freeports in Wales in parity with Freeports in other parts of the United Kingdom for the reserved taxes that have been designated to advance the policy aims. The Welsh Government will design tax reliefs from local and devolved taxes (Non-Domestic Rates and Land Transaction Tax) to support the policy aims.

Both Governments say they will remain open to the possibility of a multi-site Freeport in Wales. In recognition of Wales’ unique economic geography and the Welsh Government’s aspirations for economic development in Wales, the UK Government is willing to relax the 45 km boundary limit for a multi-site Freeport solution, should there be a sufficiently compelling case for doing so.

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Both Governments will also remain open to the possibility of allowing more than one Freeport in Wales, should they be presented with a sufficiently compelling business case.

As with English Freeports, a fair and open competitive process will be used to determine where the policy should be implemented in Wales. Both Governments will work together to co-design the process for Freeport site selection, and both will have an equal say in all decisions throughout the implementation process. This includes the final decision on site selection.

Both Governments have begun the process of designing the bid prospectus for the competition and further details about the timing of next steps will be released in due course.

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Swansea digital agency iCreate enters the metaverse with bespoke digital environments

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Swansea-based creative agency iCreate is entering the metaverse by creating 3D visual environments for Dubai-based NFT boutique Jumi – a new outlet for curated digital art.

The metaverse hit the headlines last year when Facebook’s parent company rebranded to Meta, reflecting the growing potential of the internet to offer an interactive virtual world through AI and 3D digital animation.

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The metaverse offers social connection through technology, interaction with brands and businesses, and online recreation.

It encompasses everything from online video games to virtual shops where you can digitally try on items before you buy them, and bespoke venues for online events of all kinds.

It’s expected to expand into an online world where people will have their own virtual avatars which they take from one virtual environment to another, purchasing virtual products for them and housing them in virtual homes.

This is where iCreate – which specialises in creating digital environments – comes in. The company provides CGIs, 3D flythrough animations, VR tours and marketing brochures to the off-plan property sector.

From interactive, customisable home interiors that enable buyers to plan every detail of their dream home, through to large-scale digital animations of new housing developments, iCreate is adept at creating virtual environments that look and feel like the real thing.

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Now it’s teaming up with Jumi and other partners to create digital environments that will never be built in the real world, but will exist in the metaverse, where people’s avatars can explore and socialise in them.

A key aspect of the metaverse is non-fungible tokens (NFTs): digital assets that can be bought and traded. These are increasingly hitting the headlines as everyone from independent artists to big brands creates and sells digital-only products, music, artwork and more.

Dawn Lyle (right) and the team at iCreate

Jumy, which completed a $1.2M seed funding round last year, is the ultimate NFT boutique marketplace for exclusive digital art. All artworks are curated from the world’s most creative digital artists, to guarantee outstanding quality.

The platform is the world’s first to offer a fully integrated digital art experience where visitors will be able to purchase pieces with payment cards, trade their NFTs, order NFT frames (digital frames for NFT art) and flex their NFTs on metaverse – all in one place.

By collaborating with Jumi, iCreate will make beautiful, exclusive digital environments for displaying NFTs in the metaverse. From here, it’s expected that a new market in bespoke virtual homes and offices will develop over the coming years, as more aspects of all our lives are lived in the metaverse.

Dawn Lyle, iCreate’s co-founder, said: “We’re delighted to have formed this new partnership with Jumi and to be taking our bespoke digital environments into the metaverse.

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“The metaverse offers such a wealth of possibilities, and over the coming years it will become increasingly common to play, meet and do business with people all over the world in virtual settings.

“We’re excited to be creating stunning digital environments in which these activities can take place; in the metaverse, there are no limitations and it’s possible to bring dreams to life, creating astonishing virtual places that delight and surprise. It gives us the opportunity to put all our creative skills to use in exciting new ways and we can’t wait to get started.”

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River Island launches its brand new Swansea concept store this weekend

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Fashion chain River Island is revealing its brand new concept store at Morfa Retail Park in Swansea on Saturday (7 May).

Located at the former New Look store at Unit 6 on the Brunel Way shopping centre, the new store is just a few doors down from its previous outlet, although promises to be an even bigger and better boutique shopping experience.

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Located across two floors, the 8,253 square foot store has been specially curated to the tastes of Swansea shoppers according to the fashion chain.

Set across one level, womenswear will occupy just over half the space, with the remainder split between menswear and kidswear, stocking kids, mini and baby.

To celebrate the new opening, River Island will be hosting a launch event weekend in-store on the 7th and 8th of May, where shoppers can expect to hear celebratory sounds with in-store DJ sets, whilst the first lucky 100 customers through the doors will receive a £10 gift card which can be redeemed in-store or online.

Frances Baker, River Island Property Director said: “River Island is thrilled to be relocating and open ing a new boutique store in Swansea, Morfa as part of our segmentation programme.

“We are excited to introduce our concept store to our existing loyal customers, with exciting opportunities to acquire new customers with our new look-and-feel store.”

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River Island say the store upgrade strengthens its 300 strong estate and solidifies its message of “standing by the high street”, a campaign set up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to show solidarity with other high street brands negatively hit by the effects of the pandemic.

The fashion chain say that by investing in finding ways to encourage and entice customers to return to in-person shopping it hopes to “enhance and improve the shopping journey for its customers”.

(Lead image: River Island)

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