THE clock is ticking until the UK’s temporary transition before Brexit ends, and Oxfordshire businesses are facing uncertainty as the deadline looms.

It is now a month until the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 and the UK has not reached a trade deal with the European Union.

As the last minute negotiations rumble on, Oxfordshire business owners have shared some of the efforts they have made to prepare for no deal, and also their worries about what next year might bring.

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Bethan Thomas, the co-founder of Long Hanborough-based business HotTea Mama, said she had been trying to prepare her customers in EU countries for longer waits and higher prices for the range of herbal teas she sells.

But the West Oxfordshire business owner said it was hard to predict how much money she would have to pay in custom charges to send tea into mainland Europe after the transition if there is no trade deal.

Oxford Mail:

Bethan Thomas. Picture: Ric Mellis

She said: “Our customers could also be looking at having quite a lot of hassle with customs duties. We are not sure which category we will fall into on herbal tea – it is not clear what the new customs rules will be at this point.”

Ms Thomas added that Amazon, which has been a key part of how she sells and distributes teas, has been more helpful with its advice than the British Government.

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She added: “At the moment, it feels very much like guesswork. But there are customers we can still work with and we still have time to warn people that a price increase is coming.”

Gaynor Humphrey, owner of Oxford-based toy making company Best Years sells a lot of stock to tourism shops in Europe, including in Paris.

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Gaynor Humphrey

She said she is preparing her customers for Brexit by asking them to buy a year’s worth of stock ahead of January 1 before the rules change.

She said: “My preparations are that I anticipate I will not be able to export for the whole of 2021.

“There is no point trying to make plans in December 2020 when come January or February presumably we will start getting details and we can start having a look if it is then viable.”

Ms Humphrey said: “We can prepare for things like changing all the labelling. That is the only physical thing we know we have to do. The rest of it is still all completely unknown.”

Jonathan Andrew, of Banbury based business advice firm Bibby Financial Services, said Brexit should be seen as an opportunity for small businesses.

In a blog on the Bibby website, he said: “To truly thrive, SMEs now need to recognise that this is a turning point and plan ahead for a return to business, whatever the future looks like.”

A UK Government Spokesperson said: “With fewer than 40 days to go, it’s vital that businesses also take steps to prepare now for the changes and opportunities ahead.

“That’s why we’re intensifying our engagement with businesses and running a major public information campaign so they know exactly what they need to do to hit the ground running in the new year. All businesses should visit to find out what they need to do.”