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Red tape would remain even with EU customs union, warns forwarder

[ April 24, 2019   //   ]

Director of Leeds forwarder Tudor International Freight Adam Johnson is warning that a permanent post-Brexit customs union with the EU, as apparently demanded by the Labour Party in its negotiations with Theresa May, would not in itself guarantee frictionless trade.

He says that while such arrangements typically eliminated checks at borders for tariffs and origin of goods, one international trade expert had recently stated there were over 60 regulatory, taxation and customs checks possible on goods moving across any future trade frontier between the UK and EU.”

For example, Turkey, was outside the EU but in a partial customs union with it but that did not prevent trucks from being held for up to 24 hours or more at the border. Drivers still had to show documents such as invoices, export declarations and transport permits for each country within the EU that their vehicles were going to travel through.

Johnson said: “Only combining a permanent customs union with other features, such as continued full UK membership of the EU single market – which neither main domestic party seems to be advocating – would bring frictionless trade with the bloc after Brexit. While a permanent customs union would certainly be better than, alone it still falls short of the ideal arrangements for this purpose.”