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23 October 2016

Financial Times: UK trade sector warns of Brexit customs disruption at borders

Business is warning of the risk of “major disruption” at the UK’s borders as Britain struggles to upgrade a troubled new computer system to cope with a huge increase in customs declarations expected after Brexit.

Should Britain leave the EU customs union, through which the bloc sets a common tariff, all imports and exports to the EU will require customs declarations and separate security checks. As a result officials have sought to scale up the new customs system’s maximum capacity to 350m declarations a year, against approximately 50m filings now handled and 100m that the new system was originally designed to process. [...]

In a submission to a government-industry joint consultative committee, the UK trade sector said: “Trade has changed significantly since the 1970s and the concept of rolling the clock back 40 years and introducing frontier clearances … does not seem feasible.” [...]

Britain aims to replace [the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight service (Chief)] with the new Customs Declaration Service (CDS) system by December 2018, just a few months before the UK’s likely departure from the EU.

Industry is seriously alarmed by the administrative test of applying customs checks and separate tariffs to EU trade. Noting the danger of “major disruption at the border”, the paper to the joint committee argued it was “difficult to see” how CDS or Chief would cope by 2019 with “any substantial changes to what we do now”.

Desmond Hiscock, director-general of the UK Association for International Trade, said there was growing frustration among his members over the uncertainties and risks. “The existing system will be not be able to cope and there is not much confidence that the untested and still incomplete replacement, CDS, will fare much better.” [...]

Full article on Financial Times (subscriptionr equired)

© Financial Times

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