Freight forwarders want more detail on post-Brexit Customs proposal
15 / 08 / 2017
UK freight forwarders would like to see more detail on the government’s post-Brexit trade and customs arrangements.
Earlier today, the government issued a position paper suggesting that the UK could ask Brussels to establish a “temporary customs union” after it leaves the EU in March 2019.
The British International Freight Association (BIFA) said the document outlines two basic options for the future EU-UK customs arrangements.
One that is highly streamlined, keeping the additional requirements for EU-UK trade to a minimum, but which from reading the document does imply that some form of customs declaration will be required.
The second, which BIFA said is more closely aligned with its current policy, proposes a new customs partnership with the EU, which is very radical and has not been tried before.
This would remove the need for customs processes at the border, although there would be a need to align UK and EU customs procedures.
BIFA director general Robert Keen said that the paper shows a united position within the cabinet for a more businesslike approach.
“BIFA policy ever since the 2016 Referendum has favoured retaining something as close to the Single Market as possible.
"In reality, certainly since the 2017 General Election, this has meant remaining in the Customs Union or something as close to it as possible, preferably in the long run but certainly during any implementation period, after the UK leaves the EU.
“Unfortunately, what the paper cannot address is the fact that, so far, the EU has made clear it will not discuss Britain’s future trading relationship – including customs arrangements – until it has reached agreement on several key issues, including the terms of the financial payments Britain will make on exit, the rights of citizens, and the future status of the border in Northern Ireland.
"To accommodate any of the proposals laid out in today’s paper, EU negotiators would have to change that stance and it will be interesting to see if that happens, or whether those on the EU side of negotiations determine that the UK is trying to have its cake and eat it.
“Commentators suggest that in seeking a customs union agreement that will keep things broadly the same for an interim period, the UK government is attempting to reassure UK businesses that undertake visible trade with Europe.
“As always, the devil is in the detail. BIFA will continue to work with government to find out more details on how today’s proposals will avoid the imposition of tariffs, border checks, Customs declarations and bureaucracy for UK businesses trading within the EU, as well as BIFA members, which provide the logistics services that underpin the UK’s visible trade.”
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