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Implementing Brexit: Customs

Customs arrangements after Brexit could cost UK traders £4bn.

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Introducing customs declarations after Brexit would affect up to 180,000 UK traders and could cost traders over £4 billion a year, according to the IfG analysis paper Implementing Brexit: Customs. The paper says that preparing the UK border for Brexit is a huge task with a hard deadline. Being ready for day one requires the Government to orchestrate change across more than 30 government departments and public bodies, as well as over 100 local authority organisations.

The paper also highlights the critical role played by organisations outside government. It shows the complex web of private sector organisations that must also be ready to ensure UK trade can continue to cross the border on day one after Brexit.

The authors say that while most people recognise the customs 'cliff edge' in the UK, not enough attention is paid to a similar cliff edge on the other side of the English Channel. Unless Calais, Dunkirk, Rotterdam and other European ports are also ready for Brexit, British exporters will face significant disruption to their supply chains. Preparation on both sides is particularly vital in the case of the Irish land border. They also note that the Government must successfully deliver its new customs technology programme to avoid disruption at the border after Brexit – but say the system is already facing significant issues because of constricted timelines.

Implementing Brexit: Customs offers recommendations to help the UK avoid the customs cliff edge, such as moving customs requirements away from the physical border, retaining access to key EU computer systems and establishing working groups with the private sector on implementation.

The paper follows on from Frictionless Trade? What Brexit means for cross border trade in goods, where we examine five options for future trading relationship with the EU and assess the friction created as a result of Brexit.  

Country (international)
European Union
May government
Public figures
Theresa May
Institute for Government

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