UK report: Future EU customs partnership
Brexit developments

UK report: Future EU customs partnership

The UK government published a paper entitled “Future customs arrangements: a future partnership paper” on August 15, 2017. What does this mean for traders in the EU and the UK?

Solutions for customs management after Brexit

This government paper is the first in a series of papers setting out the customs partnership arrangements on which the UK government wants to build future trade with the EU following Brexit. It details the current vision on trade and customs, including two broad options for future customs arrangements between the UK and EU. 

It also confirms the government’s proposal for a limited interim period to smooth the transition to any future model and prevent disruptions to businesses. 

>> Access the full policy paper on future customs arrangements

The assessment of for the UK’s future outside the EU Customs Union as outlined in the new UK policy paper is guided by what delivers the greatest economic advantage to the UK and by the following three strategic objectives:

  • Ensuring UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible
  • Avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Establishing an independent international trade policy

This paper also confirms that the government will publish two more white papers – one on the trade bill and another on the customs bill – before each bill is introduced in the fall. Another paper on a wider range of issues relating to Northern Ireland is also underway. 

The two broad approaches to the future customs partnership as the basis for trade with the UK can be summarized as follows:

  • Improve status quo: A highly streamlined customs arrangement through the continuation of some existing arrangements between the UK and the EU, the reduction or removal of trade barriers through new agreements, and the adoption of technology-based solutions to make it easier for businesses to comply with customs procedures.
  • Test something new: A new customs partnership with the EU by aligning the UK approach to the customs border in a way that removes the need for a UK-EU customs border. One potential approach would involve the UK mirroring the EU’s requirements for imports from the rest of the world when the final destination is the EU.

As the UK plans to leave the EU and establish an independent trade policy, the UK government will focus on making sure that UK and EU businesses and consumers can continue to trade freely with one another under a new free trade agreement. In 2016, UK imports and exports from the EU totaled £553 billion alone – underscoring the relevance of the topic for all sides. 

Traders rely on the smooth movement of goods across borders, and there is much they can do to ensure that the upcoming changes to UK trade do not impact their ongoing operations. 

Customs and compliance processes have a tremendous potential for optimization, with benefits for the balance sheet, performance, and customer service levels. Automating customs processes and modernizing global trade IT landscapes lay the right foundations to adapt to future changes in line with the latest trade policy developments and regulatory changes. 

The new UK policy paper also highlights technology-based solutions to simplify customs procedures as a key ingredient of future trade success for both EU and UK traders. Businesses do not need to wait for final new trade models – they can act now to future-proof their global trade:

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