Customs Brexit ideas - horticulture industry reaction

Future customs arrangements: a future partnership paper from HM Treasury, HM Revenue & Customs, and Department for Exiting the European Union is a new paper suggesting either no customs checks at UK-EU borders, or a more efficient system of border checks, which has raised questions about plant importing.

Raoul Curtis-Machin
Raoul Curtis-Machin

The paper discusses options for new customs arrangements between the UK and the EU post-Brexit.

The first approach suggested is: "A highly streamlined customs arrangement between the UK and the EU, streamlining and simplifying requirements, leaving as few additional requirements on EU trade as possible. This would aim to: continue some of the existing arrangements between the UK and the EU; put in place new negotiated and potentially unilateral facilitations to reduce and remove barriers to trade; and implement technology-based solutions to make it easier to comply with customs procedures.

"This approach involves utilising the UK’s existing tried and trusted third country processes for UK-EU trade, building on EU and international precedents, and developing new innovative facilitations to deliver as frictionless a customs border as possible," the document says.

The second idea is: "A new customs partnership with the EU, aligning our approach to the customs
border in a way that removes the need for a UK-EU customs border. One potential approach would involve the UK mirroring the EU’s requirements for imports from the rest of the world where their final destination is the EU. This is of course unprecedented as an approach and could be challenging to implement and we will look to explore the principles of this with business and the EU."

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "It’s too early to tell with these preliminary trade discussions. At the moment it’s just top-line ideas which are being suggested, and we need to understand more of the detail.

"Along with other trade bodies, the HTA is engaged with Defra trade teams in how future trade could take shape. As ever, there are complex demands from different business sectors and regulatory interests. Agriculture and horticulture are amongst the most complicated trade areas to be discussed because of the nature of live and fresh products."

HTA industry policy advisor David Brown said: "Plant health checks are governed by plant health legislation rather than customs legislation. At face value the suggested approach to a new customs arrangement shouldn't change that."

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