Friday, November 6, 2020

Government Recommends Every Trader Appoints a Qualified Freight Agent for Brexit Transactions

Letter Will be Good News for Forwarders and Good Advice for Shippers
Shipping News Feature

UK – It seems the slow and painful process of explaining how to deal with the forthcoming Brexit scenario to the British government might finally be coming to a qualified fruition. After all the bluster of the past months (and indeed years) this week the authorities sent out a letter to VAT-registered traders highlighting actions they need to take to continue trading with the EU from January 1st 2021.

This latest missive is, hopefully the last, in a long series of ever changing and subsequently scrapped advice and instructions from government about how to prepare for the forthcoming changes. The ever changing rules, the failure to find a clear policy on things such as truck parking, such as the Stanford West debacle, leading to potential delays in the event of customs clearance problems, all have led to frustration and derision.

Now one of the prominent points made in the letter is the importance of appointing a logistics industry specialist to guide importers and exporters through the processes which will be required. We have pointed out before that the government laboured under the notion that they could set up ‘Customs Agents’ as if they were newspaper sellers but at last they are pointing traders in the right direction.

The obvious place to start would be to speak to an established freight forwarder and British International Freight Association (BIFA) Director General, Robert Keen, whose organisation represents the bulk of such, was quick to welcome the government’s recommendation.

Keen sees this recommendation as both an acknowledgement and an endorsement by government of the vital role that freight forwarders have always played in oiling the wheels of visible international trade and managing the UK’s supply chains. He observed:

“The fact that the very first key action point in the letter states that businesses should appoint a specialist to deal with import and export declarations, regardless of the amount or value of trade that the business does with Europe, is proof that the trade association’s work to obtain greater recognition of its members’ critical role is gaining deserved traction in Whitehall and elsewhere.

“With less than two months to go until the end of the transition period, that recognition has come somewhat late in the day. But as the old saying goes, ‘better late, than never’. It will also be welcome news for BIFA members, which as freight forwarders, are responsible for the logistics services that underpin much of Britain’s visible domestic and international trade.”

Photo: Nobody in the UK is expecting an easy ride from French Customs after Brexit.