Responding to the Government’s publication of the first Future Partnership Paper, today on Customs Arrangements, Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, 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. The explicit reference to maintaining a common external tariff with the EU as part of proposed interim arrangements – as called for by the IoD – is particularly welcome as it makes clear to businesses that they are hoping to ensure no application of costly rules of origin for this period.
“By putting forward a range of suggestions, it presents the EU with different options to engage on, and hopefully encourages Brussels to come forward with its own proposals in detail. We would, however, like clarity on whether this is a mere discussion paper or part of a series of negotiating proposals being put forward to the EU. The Government still needs to work to ensure sufficient progress is made on citizens rights and any financial settlement, and we are hopeful that the EU will treat an interim deal on trade with the same sense of urgency.
“A smooth transition is something that all parties can agree on and there is every reason for them prioritise early agreement in this area. This will allow for more speedy resolution of issues relating to the Irish border – even if on a temporary basis – and allow negotiations over the longer term relationship to take place in a calm and steady manner. It does need to be stressed that there are still many issues left to address even in looking at interim arrangements – a transitional customs union only ties off some of these issues.
“There will need to be discussions on the UK’s exit from the EU’s Common Commercial Policy, what maintaining the Common External Tariff means for the UK in its trade relations with third party countries and a detailed discussion on what regulatory procedures will replace our Single Market membership if we are to exit it in 2019. Maintaining our existing customs and border arrangements with Europe is dependent on many other things besides a customs union – including how VAT is paid across borders, our relationship with EU agencies and whether anti-dumping provisions are put in place with the EU. We look forward to seeing these in short order from the Government.”