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CHIEF and CDS to run side by side

[ February 14, 2020   //   ]

Chairman of customs clearance solutions provider Agency Sector Management, Peter MacSwiney has welcomed plans to extend the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) computer system until 2021, giving more time to prepare for additional changes.

But he added: “Safety and security checks post 31 December are more of a worry as the right infrastructure is not in place, that is going to take time and it is hard to see the benefit.”

British International Freight Association (BIFA) director general, Robert Keen also welcomed the review of timetable for implementation of new Customs CDS system and that dual-running with CHIEF was likely.

He stated: “In 2019, when HMRC announced its proposed plan for completing delivery of the new Customs Declaration System (CDS) and migrating traders from CHIEF to the new platform, we expressed the view, shared with CSPs and other software developers, that the timetable would be challenging.”

But he was reassured that HMRC now plans to implement dual-running of both systems until the new system is fully developed, stable and tested.

Keen said that from the forwarder and customs agent’s viewpoint, the key statement made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove on 10 February was that frontier customs and other regulatory checks would be reintroduced on EU trade after the end of the transition period lasting until 31 December necessitating customs declarationsfor imports and exports and goods checks at the UK border.  The inevitable consequence is that similar requirements would be imposed at the EU frontier,

Keen added: “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 warned that there is insufficient infrastructure and information in place at present to support the lodgement of import safety and security checks, which most BIFA members regard as the most significant customs-related issue.

BIFA is 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.

Keen adds that with the UK now outside the EU, and the transitional period which ends on 31 December underway the development of the new core Customs Declaration System is only one part of what is now a much bigger jigsaw.

While significant concerns remain, BIFA is glad that there is now clear outline clarity with regard to Brexit and will work with Government to ensure as successful an outcome as possible.  Regarding CDS, there has been clear progress recently and HMRC is now fully engaged with key stakeholders, it says.

Forwarders and hauliers now have enough clarity to start preparing for Brexit, added MacSwiney.

There is though limited time to implement the systems needed to tackle trade friction following the UK Government’s announcement this week that import controls on European Union (EU) goods at the border from 31 December.

“We now know there will be no extension of the transitional period, it is the drop-dead-stop scenario, but it means we have clarity,” said MacSwiney, who co-chairs the JCCC Customs Brexit Group (CBG). “We don’t have to like it, but we do now need to get ready to get things done.”

He suggests that now is the time to get the right software in place or get the automation in place to deal with the predicted increased volume of entries.

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