Business groups respond to Brexit customs papers

Some of the UK’s leading business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have responded to the publication of Brexit customs position papers by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The government states that it is seeking to secure a new customs arrangement which ‘facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible’ between the UK and the EU. Its newly published paper outlines two customs approaches: a ‘highly streamlined’ customs arrangement between the UK and the EU, and a new customs partnership with the EU.

The ‘streamlined’ approach would seek to continue some of the existing customs arrangements between the UK and the EU, as well as reducing or removing barriers to trade by establishing new arrangements. Meanwhile, the new customs partnership would ‘remove the need for a UK-EU customs border’.

Responding to the publication of the papers, Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director General, said: ‘Companies will welcome the progress government has made . . . in publishing these papers. Over the past year, businesses have been providing policymakers with the evidence, ideas and solutions to make a success of Brexit.’

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, called for clarity on future customs arrangements, stating: ‘Business needs to see the government’s resources focused on the conclusion of a successful customs deal with the EU. At this stage, it is critically important to keep a number of different options open in order to achieve this goal.’

Meanwhile, the IoD welcomed the government’s ‘first concerted push on trade after Brexit’. The Institute’s Allie Renison said: ‘This is a hugely positive step from government in putting pen to paper to spell out its objectives for customs arrangements with the EU after Brexit. The paper outlines options for a transitional period and for the longer term, proving that both are crucial to achieving a smooth and orderly exit.’

A second Brexit customs paper has outlined proposals to ensure that existing trade in goods and services can continue after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. It calls for goods already on the market to be allowed to remain on sale in both the UK and the EU, ‘without restrictions’.

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