Monday, March 25, 2019

Freight Forwarding Association Praises HMRC Rethink on No Deal Brexit Arrangements

Revision of Transitional Simplified Procedures Pleases BIFA
Shipping News Feature
UK – As the country lurches into an uncertain future, dragged by a generation of politicians of all hues and nationalities seemingly unfit for purpose, so individual facets working within the supply chain try to make some sense of what may lay ahead with plans to prepare as best one can for Britain's exit from the European Union. Now the latest move by UK Customs authorities has received praise from the British International Freight Association (BIFA).

When the HMRC announced plans for Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) last month BIFA commented, in no uncertain terms, feeling that the proposed arrangements in the event of a no-deal scenario were biased against existing traders. Now, with the announcements from HMRC of amendments to its original statement, Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, was quick to praise the authorities, saying:

“Having criticised HMRC when it originally published its Transitional Simplified Procedures in February, we now welcome the news that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the date when the first supplementary customs declarations must be submitted, and any import duties must be paid, has been extended to October 4.

“We also welcome the news that TSP will be available for any port or airport where goods are being brought into the UK from the EU, not just RoRo ports. But most importantly, we are pleased that HMRC has agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients.”

Following the original announcement about TSP in February, BIFA, among others, lobbied hard with HMRC. The trade association that represents the UK freight forwarding sector, said that it understood some of the easements contained in the TSP may make it easier for new applicants to obtain these authorisations.

However it also explained that there did not appear to be equivalent liberalisation of the regimes for existing holders, such as freight forwarders, despite the fact that they are the businesses that are most likely to be fully prepared to operate TSP. The extension addresses the fact that the original documentation was skewed in favour of new applicants for authorisations and actually discriminated against existing holders, particularly relating to special procedures.

BIFA understands that HMRC’s original aim of publishing the Transitional Simplified Procedures in the event of a non-deal Brexit was to make importing easier by simplifying the declarations at the border and postponing the payment of import duties that would otherwise be due.

The extension announced last Friday provides more time to make the necessary preparations, fully test the systems, establish the communication links between the parties involved in the processes, and make sure that everyone concerned is aware of their responsibilities. Keen concluded:

“This is a very significant easement of policy and one for which BIFA, amongst others, lobbied hard to ensure all modes were treated equally. It should be noted that much confusion and effort could have been saved if Government had consulted with the trade in the first place. By allowing freight forwarders to operate TSP, the extension recognises the critical role that the freight forwarder plays as an intermediary in the UK’s supply chain.”