As the United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) negotiate an agreement that defines their future commercial relationship, the movement of goods stands out as perhaps the most tangible example of how trade flows between the two markets will change. Among other things, new documentation requirements for UK-EU movement of goods will be instituted, clearance times at ports are likely to be extended, IT systems modifications will be required, new staff must be urgently hired and trained (both for the business community and in government), and new duty and tax collection requirements will be mandated. Dozens of road border crossings between Ireland and Northern Ireland and insufficient space to stage trucks at key ports like Dover are among the most significant physical challenges facing any new regime.
Even two years after the UK voted to leave the EU, the shape of the future relationship remains unclear. The establishment of a new UK-EU customs union deserves careful consideration. What is known is that anything short of the UK’s continued membership in the existing EU Customs Union inevitably will result in new frictions as goods cross the border. The business community calls on both the UK and the EU to clarify, as soon as possible, the terms of the future UK-EU trading relationship and to specifically address the concerns of the business community to minimize the inevitable increase in administrative burden and costs of moving goods between the UK and EU-27 member states and delays at points of import/export.
This paper sets out a series of principles—both at the border and beyond the border—that the U.S.-UK Business Council believes should underpin these future ties.