FTA participated in an event organised by the Border Delivery Group (BDG) looking at future border arrangements for the post-transition era. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove MP, made important announcements regarding future border formalities, reiterating there will be no extension to the transition period beyond 31 December 2020 under any circumstances. More importantly, he also underlined the two guiding principles of the UK’s approach to the border: symmetry (ie, similar formalities and checks on inbound products and outbound products) and consistency (ie, no measures or easements restricted to EU trade).
Government is now aiming for a border that is ‘best functioning’ – as effective and as close as possible to seamless – by 2025, with an objective for a ‘functioning’ border by 1 January 2021. As a result of this approach, temporary easements that had been devised ahead of a potential no-deal scenario last year will not be on offer at the end of the transition period, even if there is no Free Trade Agreement in place. Members should expect customs declarations (the operational details of which FTA is pressing government for), regulatory checks and sanitary and phytosanitary formalities for exports and imports of agri-food products.
Customs support funding
It is disappointing that the promise of frictionless trade has been replaced with a promise that trade will be as seamless as possible but not until 2025, with a more realistic but costly ‘make do and mend’ approach to be used until then. Industry will need the support of government during this period to Keep Britain Trading effectively. In this regard, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has extended the deadline for businesses to apply for customs support funding until 31 January 2021, something FTA has been pushing for since the general election; there is at least £7.5 million left to claim from HMRC.
FTA will engage with government to obtain much-needed clarity on the operational details businesses need in order to prepare for the end of the transition period while continuing to push for the best possible agreement with the EU.
Next FTA Brexit webinar – 20 February
FTA’s next Brexit webinar will take place on Thursday 20 February, between 14:00 and 15:00. It will focus on the future UK-EU trade relationship and include a dedicated Q&A session.
Future sessions are likely to deal with other aspects, such as trade between NI and GB, and will be split between operators and buyers as more operational information becomes available. Webinars are free to all members – register for the February one here.