Issue 5 2018 - Freight Business Journal

PM sets out blueprint for barrier-free trade aſter Brexit >> 1

– for example, at the point at which the good

is substantially transformed into a UK product, rather than at the point of final consumption and suggests exploring an approach using existing EU concepts such as those within the Regional Convention on pan-Euro- Mediterranean preferential rules of origin. Processes governing eligibility

for repayment, including risk profiling and effectively targeted audit and assurance activity, must be sufficiently robust to ensure the mechanism cannot be used to evade EU or UK tariffs and duties, through methods such as re-exporting of goods from the UK to the EU, or vice versa. The government also proposes

application of common cross- border processes and procedures for VAT and Excise, as well as some administrative cooperation and information exchange


underpin risk-based enforcement. The UK would accede to the

Common Transit Convention and has already begun the application process. It would, too, agree mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs) and introduce a range of simplifications for businesses, including implementing self- assessment over time to allow traders to calculate their own customs duties and aggregate their

customs declarations. It

would also speed up authorisation processes, for example through increased automation and better use of data and. make existing simplified procedures easier for traders to access. Future technology could

in time make it easier to allow traders

to lodge information

with machine learning and artificial intelligence allowing them to automate collection and submission of data required for customs declarations, the paper suggests. The UK, the paper said,

“would make an upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with the relevant EU rules, with all those rules legislated for by Parliament or the devolved legislatures”. The UK would continue to

participate in those EU agencies that provide authorisations for goods in highly regulated sectors – namely the European Chemicals Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the European Medicines Agency – accepting the rules of these agencies and contributing to their costs, under new arrangements that recognise the UK will not be a Member State The FCA would remove the

need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU “as if they were a combined customs territory” This, said the report’s authors “would enable the UK to control its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world and

///NEWS Resignations put

ensure businesses paid the right or no tariff, becoming operational in stages as both sides complete the necessary preparations.” The aim, they said was to avoid

any new friction at the border, and allow ‘just-in-time’ trade to continue to operate. The arrangement would,

importantly, avoid the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, The new arrangements on

goods would sit alongside new ones for services and digital business, giving the UK the freedom to chart its own path in the areas that matter most for its economy. The Freight Transport

Association (FTA), reacted positively to the White Paper. Deputy chief executive James Hookham said that the solutions outlined “offer encouragement for those tasked with keeping the nation’s complex supply chain moving freely, but will require a similar level of imagination and optimism from the UK’s European trading partners….they should give businesses, which have been worried about a lack of clarity over future trading arrangements, some level of reassurance.” Remaining areas of concern a

include permits system,

mentioned in passing, but a practical option is still awaited, says FTA. It also more clarity on the status of skilled EU logistics workers aſter Brexit.

Government under pressure

Business may be relieved to see details of how the Government plans to achieve frictionless trade aſter Brexit but not all politicians were so impressed. Prime Minister Theresa May’s

government was severely shaken though not toppled – at least at the time of writing - by high-profile cabinet resignations within days of a crucial meeting to discuss the white paper. Senior ministers did appear to

have reached agreement aſter a meeting at Chequers on 6 July to thrash out a workable plan. For a time, it appeared that the attempt by the Prime Minister to head off a revolt by Eurosceptic Tory MPs while appeasing increasingly restive business interests may have succeeded. However, pro-Brexit ministers

then appeared to have had second thoughts. The initial impression following

the Chequers meeting wasing that the deep divisions within the Conservative party had been smoothed over, only for Brexit secretary David Davies to tender his resignation from the Cabinet before the end of the weekend, saying that he in fact no longer could not support the proposals. This medium-sized political earthquake was

followed on

Monday by the resignation of foreign secretary Boris Johnson, leading to media speculation

that a challenge to Mrs May’s leadership was imminent. This was further fuelled by the resignations of junior ministers Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield just minutes before Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to hold a press conference in London, suggesting an orchestrated campaign by pro- Brexit elements to put pressure on the Prime Minister. However, sensational though

the resignations may have been, the Government so far seems to have weathered the

immediate political storm. As one political commentator put it, in normal time such high profile resignations might have toppled any government, but these are clearly not normal times. Amid the turmoil in

Westminster, it was leſt to EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to strike a more positive note. He pointed out that agreement had been reached on “80% of the negotiations,” and that the remaining 20% of issues could be resolved by October or November.

Give us the tools

and we’ll finish the job, says FTA chief

Freight Transport Association (FTA) president Leigh Pomlett called on the government to give the logistics industry the information it needs to keep the nation’s trade moving efficiently post-Brexit or face delays and shortages of products and services. Speaking at the Keep Britain

Trading conference in London on 20 June, he said: “The time for political negotiations on Brexit is fast running out, and those of us responsible for keeping Britain trading need urgent assistance and guidance from government. We are now in a crucial period where businesses need to make spending decisions and commit to operating plans for the period when Brexit will be a reality, but we are currently operating “in the dark”. “Without knowing who we will be employing, how we will be crossing borders, what certifications and permits goods and vehicles will require in order to travel, business as we know it will be unable to continue. The logistics industry will be the first part of the economy to encounter the realities of Brexit when vehicles drive off the first ferry to arrive in Calais on 30 March 2019 and we want things to go smoothly, but we need more information about the trading conditions we are to expect once the UK leaves the EU. The time for talking is over - it’s now time to act.” FTA reiterated its

call for

clarification on the points its members need for the continuation of frictionless trade once the UK

departs the European Union: “Simply saying things will be

OK is no longer enough,” Pomlett continued. “The logistics sector will be key to making Brexit work for the UK but we can no longer work blind and be leſt to guess what we may have to do, and when by. Logistics wants Brexit to go well for the country, but needs the tools with which to facilitate a smooth departure from the EU for all British business.” In addition to the confirmation

of the status of EU workers and the permits required for travelling to and from the Continent, FTA reiterated its calls for clarity on the continued mutual recognition of vocational driving licences and competency certificates, as well as the number of vehicle permits which will be available to enable vehicles to cross the Channel. Meanwhile, the Chartered

Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in its response to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the effects of Brexit on UK freight operations, said that there could be an increase in unaccompanied trailer movements between the UK and Europe, an increase in deep sea port activity, increases in stock and warehouse requirements and a reduction in foreign vehicles operating in the UK. CILT believes that all of these

changes require capacity that may not exist in the market today, and will in turn, threatening increased consumer and industrial prices

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