UK forwarders concerned over post-Brexit customs plan

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) says that the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee is right to have concerns over the government and HMRC’s plans for customs procedures post-Brexit.

Commenting after the publication of a report by the Committee, the trade association for UK freight forwarders agrees that more needs to be done to manage the huge uncertainty faced by a large number of traders over the matter of future Customs declarations once the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

BIFA director general, Robert Keen, said that the issues concerning Customs matters is probably the biggest concern voiced by the trade association’s members at present.

“We are actively involved with HMRC and have always recommended that there needs to be wider engagement with all who are engaged in processing international trade to give them as much time as possible to prepare and to allay fears," said Keen.

“We agree that our members and the trading companies that they serve need better and more regular information about the development of the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), which is scheduled to replace the current  Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

“We are looking forward to receiving further reassurance from HMRC that the CDS system and the CHIEF contingency option are capable of managing the likely huge increase in the number of Customs declarations every year, if no trade deal between the UK and EU is concluded.

“We share the Committee’s concern that HMRC does not yet have the necessary funding and resources to produce the infrastructure that will be required to facilitate Customs processes post-Brexit."

He added: “It is clear that there will be many problems if the new customs system is not in place and functioning efficiently by the scheduled date that the UK is set to leave the European single market and the Customs Union in March 2019.

“Any failure in the new customs system would most likely lead to huge disruption for businesses, with significant delays at ports and airports of entry.”
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