Three-quarters of NE bosses say Brexit is bad news for their businesses - with many suffering falling sales and rising red tape.

In one of the first post-Brexit surveys across the region, the North East England Chamber of Commerce looked at a wide range of issues from what was difficult in the new arrangements, any advantages of Brexit, cost implications and logistics. In a sobering indictment of the withdrawal, after only six months 75% of respondents had difficulties in trading post Brexit, reporting it had a negative or very negative impact.

Jack Simpson, Chamber training and global network adviser said: “The results demonstrated clearly how challenging companies have found international trade, with a plethora of issues depending on their sector and products. We have identified the very urgent need for more, clear information from Government to support businesses and help find answers to their trading questions. There is no doubt Brexit is hitting our competitiveness as a country and will also make levelling up even harder.

More than 37% of respondents said their EU sales had reduced since the start of the year, with only17% reporting an improvement, while 32% found that their goods did not meet new Rules of Origin and therefore could not benefit from tariff-free trade between the UK and the EU.

One of the major changes of Brexit is that businesses, which have only traded in the single market, now have to go through customs processes. More than half of respondents said this was a major problem.

As well as the increased paperwork, the tariff and administrative customs costs have also caused problems with 41% of businesses struggling to absorb the new financial burden.

Only 5% said they were able to absorb new costs.

Port congestion, delays or a shortage of hauliers, price inflation for containers and shipping, cashflow challenges and lead times for manufacturing supply chains were also hitting firms.

Jack Simpson said: “We believe these results show larger businesses with more international trade resources, who have dealt with countries outside the EU, have coped with Brexit more easily than others who had no previous knowledge or experience.

’Respondents also experienced difficulties due to matters outside their control, for example, confusion over the required paperwork and shortage of experts, such as vets, to approve movements

“Under the new UK-EU relationship, most goods’ movements rely on multiple stakeholders working together, such as buyers, sellers, freight forwarders, customs agents and hauliers.

“This chain can only be as strong as its weakest component, and an error can have profound impacts.”