Four Out of Five Belgian Companies Aren't Prepared for Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- With 80 percent of Belgian companies unprepared for Brexit of any kind, the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel is putting together a package of measures to help businesses in case the U.K. crashes out of the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.

Out of some 25,000 Belgian businesses that trade with the U.K., only about 5,000 are prepared for the customs formalities and extra administrative burden that will come with Brexit, deal or no deal, according to Finance Minister Alexander De Croo.

The government in Brussels will present a set of proposed laws that will focus on customs, food security, employment and social security, Michel said on Wednesday, according to Belga news wire. The package will be examined at the administration’s weekly cabinet meeting on Friday and then submitted to Parliament for approval.

The prime minister will ask lawmakers to release financial resources to carry out the measures and budget estimates will be finalized in the coming days, Michel said.

Even with a divorce deal, Brexit could lead to an increase in customs declarations of 14 percent for imports and 47 percent for exports, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The government has already warned companies and citizens that a no-deal Brexit would mean additional tariffs of 2.2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) for Belgian businesses and a loss of more than 40,000 jobs. The government in September made available an online tool called the “Brexit Impact Scan” to help businesses assess their preparedness for the U.K.’s exit.

“Unless the British abandon Brexit in the coming days, Belgian companies trading with the U.K. will have to assume customs obligations in the future,” De Croo said in a statement. “For many companies, it has been more than 25 years since they had to deal with customs.”

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