EU border checks relaxation welcome pragmatic step

London, UK: The UK Warehousing Association has welcomed the government’s change of stance on EU border checks, announced on Friday, 12 June.

The association has long insisted that ports simply do not have the capacity to cope with the estimated 200m additional customs declarations per annum likely to be generated by Brexit, and that this would risk serious supply chain interruption.

The government’s announcement that initially a ‘light touch’ approach will be taken, with less rigorous checks on imports, other than controlled goods than originally planned, is therefore ‘pragmatic’ says UKWA CEO Peter Ward.

“We’re pleased that government appears to be listening, albeit somewhat late in the day,” he commented. “Preparation for full declaration on all goods by the end of the year would not have been feasible. We also welcome the announcement of an extra £50m investment for support, recruitment and training of intermediaries to prepare for 1st July 2021, when declarations will be needed for all EU trade”

Another key recommendation from UKWA to government has been to use existing inland facilities for customs and inspection checks to relieve the pressure on the ports. “The government has finally acknowledged that multi-functional inland sites will be required for customs and SPS procedures and has committed to build the necessary infrastructure for inland inspection by the end of June next year,” Ward said.

“Our message is that rather than spend taxpayers’ money on extensive state-of-the-art projects, existing facilities could be effectively optimized. Plenty of our members operate customs bonded warehouses and temperature-controlled facilities within reach of the major ro/ro ports. These companies have the experience, skills and labour to provide inspection services and would embrace the opportunity to expand their services. We look forward to further engagement with the government on this issue.”

He said that given the government’s determination not to accept any extension of the transition period, this more phased approach constitutes the best comprise for the sector.

“As ever, the devil is in the detail,” Ward said. “We are talking about highly technical and very complex processes; it is vital that the government consults thoroughly with those ‘at the coalface’ to fully understand all implications and a feasible timeline before committing to major change.”

The government has confirmed that there will be no extension to the Transition Period. However, due to Covid-19 impacts, full controls on EU trade from 1 January will no longer be possible.rom 1 January, declarations will be needed for Controlled Goods but submissions and payments for all other goods may be delayed for up to six months.

Traders must have a deferment account, but do not have to be registered with HMRC.

Some high-risk animal and plant products will need to be pre-notified.

There will be Customs and Border Force interventions based on risk management. Intrastat arrivals declarations will still be needed.

From 1st July 2021, declarations will be needed for all EU trade, including Safety & Security declarations.

A new support package to help traders get ready will be available, including another £50m for intermediaries.

The government is proposing a new port infrastructure should be built and will be consulting with the ports. Where there is no land available at the port, the new build will be inland –this relates in particular to Dover.

There will be a new Bulk Declaration Scheme for low value imports from 1st January 2021.

There will be engagement with business over the coming weeks to develop more detail and the Border Operating Model will be published mid-July.

The government wishes to have an improved upstream border readiness program in place to limit delays on exports, ie for drivers to check they have the right documentation to enter France. This may include a smart app which is under development.


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