Freight Forwarders Defended by BIFA General Director
In response to HMRC’s Transitional Simplified Procedures for Customs in a post-Brexit environment, BIFA General Director Robert Keen released the following comments stating his concern of the impact and fairness between freight forwarders and other players in global trade:
“As the trade association for freight forwarders, which are responsible for managing the supply chains that underpin the UK’s visible international trade, we have long campaigned for friction-less borders post Brexit.
We note the publication of these Transitional Simplified Procedures by HMRC in the event of a non-deal Brexit, and are led to believe that they are aimed at making importing easier by simplifying the declarations at the border and postponing the payment of import duties that would otherwise be due.
However, having reviewed the documentation that has been released, BIFA believes that they are aimed solely at those traders, which have not been previously engaged in international trade, giving an overview of the procedures available to those traders.
Whilst some of the easements that they contain regarding simplifications and special procedures may make it easier for new applicants to obtain these authorizations, there does not appear to be equivalent liberalization of the regimes for existing holders, such as freight forwarders.
In many ways the documentation appears skewed in favor of new applicants for authorizations and actually discriminates against existing holders, particularly relating to special procedures.
It appears to us that TSP allows traders without any customs expertise, and tried and tested systems, to by-pass the strict authorization requirements which otherwise apply to freight forwarders and customs agents.
If the above are the case this will be highly unpopular amongst freight forwarders and customs agents as they appear to be excluded from them and no-one seems willing to say why this is so. That is something on which we will be seeking clarification from HMRC. If this is a true picture of the situation, we question whether the preparations are far enough advanced and whether the systems that will be needed are fully tested.
It is all very well to write down these procedures, but the unanswered question is will they work when systems are largely untried, communication links between the parties involved on the processes are not established, many will be unaware of their responsibilities, and the freight forwarding companies that are at the heart of international trade movements appear to be excluded from them.
TSP should be for all involved in visible international trade movements, including freight forwarders.”
Source: Impress Communications