UK to ‘mirror’ existing EU customs system

Britain expects to “mirror” much of the existing EU customs system both during and after Brexit, according to new UK government plans.

The plans, published on Tuesday, could prevent trade secretary Liam Fox’s immediate ability to implement new trade deals.

This first detailed look at the UK’s negotiating strategy also reveals new reporting requirements for businesses as a way to minimise delays at international borders and avoid the need to build extra physical infrastructure.

The compromises are outlined in a long-awaited policy paper on future customs arrangements that promises “the freest and most frictionless system possible” via a complex series of modifications to the existing system.

“The approaches we are setting out today will benefit both the EU and UK and avoid a cliff-edge for businesses and individuals on both sides,” said UK Brexit secretary, David Davis.

“The way we approach the movement of goods across our border will be a critical building block for our independent trade policy,” he added.

“An interim period would mean businesses only need to adjust once to the new regime and would allow for a smooth and orderly transition.”

Temporary customs union

But explanatory briefings by government officials revealed that the UK government’s intention is for this interim phase to involve a new, temporary, customs union with the EU that would be substantially the same as now.

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