UK importers and exporters have called on the UK Government to prioritise the confirmation of the level of customs duty that will be payable on goods when they are imported into Britain – in the event of a No Deal Brexit, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The FTA said the government has sent “mixed signals” about what businesses will have to pay to bring goods into the country in the event of a No Deal Brexit and has said it will announce the UK Customs tariff “shortly”. Customs duties are imposed to protect domestic producers but could also increase the price of imported goods for consumers.
But with less than four weeks to go until the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union, members of FTA’s Shippers’ Council have expressed intense frustration they still do not know what will happen to their goods when they arrive in the UK after 29 March, if it is a No Deal Brexit, and called on the government to publish the UK Customs Tariff without delay.
FTA’s Deputy chief executive officer, James Hookham said: “It takes about six weeks for container ships to sail from the Far East to the UK, so goods are on their way here now that will arrive in early April.
“At this point, these goods may be liable for new UK Customs duties, if the country leaves the EU without a deal. Businesses may not be able to pass these new costs on to customers, or the goods may simply not be attractive to consumers at their new prices.
“It is unfair and unreasonable for the government to claim it is business’s responsibility to prepare for a No Deal Brexit when ministers are unable to provide essential information for importers and exporters with which to calculate the costs and consequences for their goods.
“Businesses need the UK Customs Tariff to be declared and published without delay. It is also imperative that traders obtain more detailed information about trade deals with the rest of the world which they had been promised would be rolled over after Brexit: nothing has been confirmed to date beyond a general information note and statement of intent published in February.
Hookham concluded: “If traders delayed making a Customs declaration for this long they would be in trouble with HMRC. Government’s own Customs declaration is now overdue and business patience is running out.”