Freight News, Business

Government agrees time-limited EU customs plan – updated

[ June 7, 2018   //   ]

The Government has approved its so-called ‘backstop’ plan for trade with the EU after Brexit including an end date of 2021 – the latter apparently at the insistence of Brexit Secretary David Davis,.

Under the plan, the UK would continue to align its tariffs on goods with that of the EU, in order to avoid complications at its borders with the EU, both at the English Channel ports and the land border with the Irish Republic.

Hard line Brexiteers had feared that alignment of tariffs would become anew normal’ and that the arrangement would continue in perpetuity.

However, the UK government has been under increasing pressure to detail plans of how it would avoid a ‘hard border’ with Ireland, ahead of crucial meetings with the EU at the end of June.

The Government said that a long-term arrangement for customs would be put in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest.

The British Ports Association  welcomed the publication of the arrangement. Chief executive, Richard Ballantyne, said: “This arrangement will give ports a and freight operators measure of short-term certainty. It is now essential that Government makes progress on our long-term customs and other border arrangements.

“There is still an urgent need for clarity on non-customs checks, which account for three quarters of border stoppages. These have the potential to cause huge disruption.

“We look forward to the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill and hope that, whether various amendments are passed or defeated, we will have a clearer picture of what happens next.

“We urge the Government to speed up progress with the planned customs white paper to clarify our future relationship with the EU. We have made clear that, of the Government’s two proposed policies, the customs partnership represents almost business as usual at the border for UK-EU trade, but whatever arrangement we choose it is vital there is time for ports to adapt to avoid disruption.

“Ports need to know sooner rather than later what this relationship will look like and we will continue to work with Government behind the scenes on ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible.”