Freight firm boss warns over ma­jor change to cus­toms sys­tem.

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / NEWS - Is­mail Mulla BUSI­NESS RE­PORTER @Is­mailMulla

Dis­rup­tion for the York­shire’s EU traders fol­low­ing any no-deal Brexit will be in­ten­si­fied by de­lays in in­tro­duc­ing the UK’s new sys­tem for man­ag­ing cus­toms dec­la­ra­tions, a di­rec­tor of a lo­gis­tics busi­ness has claimed.

Adam John­son, inset, di­rec­tor of Leeds-based Tu­dor In­ter­na­tional Freight, said the key im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod for re­plac­ing the Cus­toms Han­dling of Im­port and Ex­port Freight (CHIEF) sys­tem by the Cus­toms Dec­la­ra­tion Ser­vice (CDS) could now be com­ing at the worst pos­si­ble time.

He said: “CHIEF was in­tro­duced about 25 years ago, to process cus­toms dec­la­ra­tions for all goods be­ing shipped be­tween the UK and non-EU coun­tries. It’s one of the world’s largest and most so­phis­ti­cated sys­tems of this type but its weak­nesses in­clude it can no longer be adapted eas­ily to new re­quire­ments.

“Although CHIEF’s re­place­ment has been planned since be­fore the Brexit ref­er­en­dum, de­lays in in­tro­duc­ing CDS mean it’s in­creas­ingly un­likely tran­si­tion to the new sys­tem will be com­plete by the time we’re due to leave the EU on March 29.”

Mr John­son added that, in ad­di­tion to the op­er­a­tional chal­lenges of adopt­ing a very dif­fer­ent plat­form, York­shire’s busi­nesses and their freight for­warders, like his own or­gan­i­sa­tion, were con­cerned over the new sys­tem’s ca­pac­ity.

A no-deal Brexit would mean trade with EU coun­tries hav­ing to be recorded on it from the date of Britain’s de­par­ture, which would lead to a mas­sive in­crease in the num­ber of im­port and ex­port dec­la­ra­tions a largely un­proven sys­tem had to han­dle.

Mr John­son said com­pa­nies in­volved in trad­ing with non-EU coun­tries were al­ready aware of the ex­ten­sive back­logs that could arise at ports and air­ports when CHIEF went down and that any such prob­lems would com­pound the new im­port and ex­port tar­iffs and other is­sues a no-deal Brexit would gen­er­ate for the re­gion’s EU traders.

“HMRC orig­i­nally in­tended that CDS would be de­liv­ered in three phases, be­ing ready for im­ports last No­vem­ber and ex­ports this month. CHIEF, which would con­tinue to run for a time to aid the tran­si­tion, would then be with­drawn,” Mr John­son said. “The first re­lease of CDS went live, as planned, last Au­gust. But late last year HMRC said avail­abil­ity of full im­port func­tion­al­ity was be­ing post­poned un­til ‘af­ter Christ­mas’. It also emerged that a new elec­tronic tar­iff, needed for the data­bases soft­ware firms are pro­duc­ing, would be pub­lished sub­stan­tially later than en­vis­aged.”

The di­rec­tor of Leeds-Tu­dor In­ter­na­tional stressed his or­gan­i­sa­tion still saw the in­tro­duc­tion of CDS in prin­ci­ple as im­por­tant and ben­e­fi­cial.

He said: “CDS, which will be ac­cessed through a Gov­ern­ment Gate­way ac­count, will of­fer sev­eral new and ex­ist­ing ser­vices in one place.

“These in­clude York­shire’s traders and for­warders be­ing able to view pre­vi­ous ex­port and im­port data on pre-de­fined re­ports, check tar­iffs and ap­ply for new au­tho­ri­sa­tions and sim­pli­fi­ca­tions.

“In ad­di­tion, use­ful on­line help will in­clude self-ser­vice tools, guides and check­lists. But traders and for­warders will also have to en­ter some ad­di­tional de­tails not re­quired by CHIEF, in­clud­ing an au­dit trail of pre­vi­ous doc­u­ment IDs, ad­di­tional party types – such as buy­ers and sell­ers – and po­ten­tially ad­di­tional com­mer­cial ref­er­ences or track­ing num­bers too.”

Last month, Mr John­son called on the Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide more cer­tainty over Brexit ar­range­ments

It’s one of the world’s largest and most so­phis­ti­cated sys­tems.

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