With less than 10 days until the long awaited Brexit outcome, BIFA’s Director General Robert Keen stands by his initial warning to freight forwarders to prepare for a no-deal environment and remain one step ahead in a statement this week. Keen’s comments further reiterate the confidence he has in the proactive measures implemented by the company’s members.
“Confusion reigns and with less than a fortnight to go before Brexit, no proposal is off the table and some suggest that a ‘no deal’ exit can happen because last week’s vote was advisory.
“A no-deal departure would be very disruptive and damaging for the UK economy as a whole, but freight forwarders – many of whom are Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) accredited – would play a key role in tidying up the mess left by the politicians by ensuring UK importers and exporters can continue trading with the rest of Europe as best as possible after March 29.
“I am pleased to report that BIFA members are ahead of the curve and planning for every eventuality, with their trade association trying to make sure it gets relevant information to its members following the release of that information from the various UK government departments.
“BIFA’s executive management has engaged with various government departments over the last two years regarding the issues that affect the movement of visible trade post March 29th, in order to provide our members with advice on those discussions whenever procedures are finalized.
“Our members have also been discussing the possible impacts with their clients.”
“Large and small, BIFA members have taken actions to review all options to overcome the disorder that a no-deal Brexit could bring to international trade in order to define sustainable solutions as the set of Brexit conditions becomes clearer.
“One thing is certain, our members are ready, willing and able to clear up any mess regarding the movement of freight into and from the UK, created by politicians.”
Source: Impress Communications
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