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BIFA concerned about new EU-UK customs checks

04/02/2020

Friday, 14 February 2020

 

Freight association believes there is ‘insufficient infrastructure and information in place to support import safety and security checks’, its members regarding this as ‘the most significant customs-related issue to facilitating the flow of goods to and from the EU’

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has voiced a number of concerns and questions about the UK’s intention to introduce frontier customs and other regulatory checks on EU trade after the end of the transition period on 31 December.

On behalf of its members, the association said it shared some of the opinions made by others about this week’s UK government statements about the ned for customs declarations between Great Britain and the EU after 31 December, highlighting concerns about whether the infrastructure and information in place to support import safety and security checks, and whether postponed VAT accounting will be introduced on import consignments – an area of uncertainty and concern for BIFA’s members.

BIFA said: “From the forwarder and customs agent’s viewpoint, the key statement made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, on 10February was that frontier customs and other regulatory checks would be reintroduced on EU trade after the end of the transition period lasting until 31st December 2020. This would mean that importers bringing goods from the EU and exporters sending goods to the EU would have to submit customs declarations and face goods checks at the UK border. The inevitable consequence is that similar requirements would be imposed at the EU frontier.”

BIFA director general, Robert Keen commented: “The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove has clearly stated that full import Customs declarations would have to be submitted – there is to be no differentiation between regulatory procedures for imports/exports between the UK and EU and Rest of the World.” 

BIFA said it “reiterated comments made by others that there is insufficient infrastructure and information in place at present to support the lodgement of import safety and security checks. In fact, BIFA members regard this as the most significant customs-related issue to facilitating the flow of goods to and from the EU.

BIFA said it was “also seeking clarification on whether postponed VAT accounting will be introduced on import consignments, as this is another area that is causing concerns for its members due to the need to fund the increased guarantees required to underpin duty deferment accounts. This change will help make the UK more competitive in international trade and improve our World Bank ratings.”

While “having significant concerns regarding certain elements of the outcome of Brexit”, BIFA said it was “glad that there is now clear outline clarity with regard to Brexit and will work via its Member Institutions with Government to ensure as successful an outcome as possible.”

BIFA today also welcomed the news that the implementation timetable of the new systems for making and processing Customs declarations is under review and that dual-running with the existing system is likely until the new system is fully developed, stable and tested. 

Keen added that with the UK now outside the EU, and the transitional period – which ends on 31December 2020 – underway, the development of the UK’s new core Customs Declaration System (CDS) “is only one part of what is now a much bigger jigsaw”.

BIFA noted: “Regarding CDS, there has been clear progress recently and HMRC is now fully engaged with key stakeholders, a development that is to be welcomed.”

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