Government Vision for post EU Trade and Customs

The Government have released white papers which pave the way for legislation that will ensure the UK is ready for the first day after the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Trade White Paper, published by the Department for International Trade, establishes the principles that will guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that will support those aims.

UK Trade White Paper (pdf)

The paper establishes the principles that will guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that will support those aims and includes:

  • taking steps to enable the UK to maintain the benefits of the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement
  • ensuring the UK can support developing economies by continuing to give them preferential access to UK markets
  • preparing to bring across into UK law existing trade agreements between EU and non-EU countries
  • creating a new, UK trade remedies investigating authority

The Customs Bill White Paper, published by the Treasury, sets out plans to legislate for the standalone customs, VAT and excise regimes the UK will need once it leaves the EU.

Customs Bill White Paper (pdf)

Later this year, the government will bring a Customs Bill before parliament. The Customs Bill will give the UK the power to:

  • charge customs duty on goods; define how goods will be classified, set and vary the rates of customs duty and any quotas
  • amend the VAT and excise regimes so that they can function effectively post-exit
  • set out the rules governing how HMRC will collect and enforce the taxes and duties owed
  • implement tax-related elements of the UK’s future trade policy

For perhaps the first time, the Paper also consider a scenario, where the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated outcome on customs arrangements.

In this scenario, the Bill will make provision for the UK to establish a standalone customs regime from day one, including setting tariffs and quotas, and establishing a goods classification system in line with the government’s WTO obligations. The UK would apply the same customs duty to every country with which it does not have a trade deal or otherwise provide preferential access to the UK market, such as schemes for developing countries. The level of this duty would be decided by the government, and set out in secondary legislation before the UK leaves the EU. Currently, for the EU as a whole, only around 30% of imported goods (in value terms) are subject to the Common External Tariff. On the whole, traders who already import from outside the EU should see no change in the customs declarations procedures for those imports.

References

Government sets out vision for post EU trade and customs policy

Preparing for our future UK trade policy

WTO Agreement on Government Procurement

Customs Bill: legislating for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes

UK Trade Tariff: community and common transit outwards