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Updated: Trade welcomes deal but still work to do

[ April 28, 2021   //   ]

Logistics UK has welcomed the European Parliament’s ratification of the Trade and Customs Agreement (TCA) drawn up at the end of last year, just before the Brexit deadline. European policy manager Sarah Laouadi said it would give certainty to businesses on both sides of the Channel and also enable industry, UK and EU authorities to take part in the agreement’s cooperation bodies to focus on effective implementation of the deal and keep goods and services flowing freely.

However, there are still gaps in the agreement, for instance for touring companies that will need to support their customers in the cultural sector when the concert and event season re-starts but will be prevented from touring freely in Europe under the current terms

Laouadi  also warned: “Despite the ratification of a long-term framework for the trading relationship with the EU, it is also important to remember that there are still changes to come in import conditions: the UK is yet to introduce checks and other requirements on inbound goods, which are expected to be phased in gradually over the next year. Business and government must ensure that all necessary preparations have been made in a timely fashion, to prevent unnecessary or avoidable delays at the border or at destination.”

The UK currently does not make checks on goods arriving in the UK but requirements on products of animal origin and other high risk foods will be implemented from 1 October.  The option to defer the submission of the full customs declaration up to six months from the point of import will also be phased out on 1 January 2022.  Safety and Security Declarations for imports, as well as physical checks on products of animal origin (also known as Sanitary and Phytosanitary checks, or SPS) will be required from 1 January 2022.

Laouadi advises companies that import goods from the EU to familiarise themselves with what will be required in plenty of time and review their contracts, Incoterms and processes with suppliers and partners on the other side of the Channel.

Director General of the British International Freight Association, Robert Keen, added that while ratification of the TCA had removed any lingering doubts, “the reality is that the changes within the agreement have been operational now for almost four months. Whilst the Government has extended the deadlines of the Border Operating Model, it now needs to address significant unresolved issues such as delayed Customs declarations.”
BIFA members’ experience since 1 January clearly showed that large sections of the trading community were not prepared for the changes in processes brought in by phase one of the Border Operating Model, he said: “We continue to express significant concerns regarding phases two and three of the Border Operating Model; and various Government departments have been unable to provide satisfactory answers to many of these.
“Actions speak louder than words and with the TCA now ratified, Government needs to engage extensively with businesses to support them to adjust to the new requirements already in place and to prepare for the new requirements to come, to avoid the ongoing disruption and difficulties which many of our members continue to report.”

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