UK's post-brexit trade and customs plans a step in the right direction, says FTA

15 / 08 / 2017

  • UK's post-brexit trade and customs plans a step in the right direction, says FTA

    UK's post-brexit trade and customs plans a step in the right direction, says FTA

The UK's Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the UK government’s position paper on post-Brexit trade and customs arrangements  as a “step in the right direction”.

However, the association added that the ambitions laid out in the document are far from guaranteed, and will require some careful negotiation in order to ensure that British businesses are able to trade freely and easily post-Brexit. 

“The Government has recognised that it cannot drive the British economy off the cliff edge of Brexit,” said FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham.

"But to secure the best possible deal for British business will take skill and understanding of how trading relationships work, in order to obtain the buy-in of the rest of the EU27 countries, as well as the European Union's (EU) own bureaucrats."

The government's position paper suggests that the UK could ask Brussels to establish a “temporary customs union” after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

But during this period, it would also expect to be able to negotiate its own international trade deals, something which cannot be done as an EU Customs Union member.

Once this time expires, the government will hope to establish either a “highly streamlined” border with the EU or a new “partnership” with no customs border at all.

The FTA has developed its own agenda for Brexit, named CLEAN, which the association is urging government to include.

·   Customs systems and procedures capable of handling up to 300m additional annual declarations

·    Learning curve – time to adapt to new systems and acclimatise to making customs declarations for UK- EU trade

·   Equivalent procedures in all other European customs administrations to avoid intra-EU border delays

·   Avoid vehicle checks at ports and airports where there is no time and no room – advance declarations and clearance systems can eliminate the need for checks

·   No cliff-edge in trade procedures – businesses will require transitional arrangements to ensure international trade can continue to operate 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, especially if negotiations break down at short notice and the UK exits the customs union without a deal

The British Ports Association (BPA) also welcomed the government's position paper, but added that is wants certain assurances post Brexit.

The BPA's chief executive Richard Ballantyne said: "We welcome the Government's priorities to ensure a smooth transition in the immediate period after the UK leaves the EU but more focus is needed on the likely impacts such as delays at ports.

"Preserving the beneficial arrangements of Customs Union membership, such as minimal checks at the border, are extremely important to a number of ports, particularly the Roll-on Roll-off/ferry port gateways."

The Government’s Brexit position paper will be published at 12.30pm today and can be found here.

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