Managing Director of privately-owned freight forwarder Europa Worldwide Group, Andrew Baxter, has reacted to an official study which offers a template for future UK-EU border relationships post Brexit – summarising the report as 'sensible and positive progress' towards a workable solution.
Andrew, who was a firm supporter of Brexit, sees the study written by the former Director of the World Customs Organization Lars Karlsson and commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizen's Rights and Constitutional Affairs as a 'step in the right direction' and 'wholly useful' in Government's decision-making process about how to operate the UK's borders after it leaves the EU.
He said: "The study looks at cross-border movement and trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland but all principles and recommendations within it can be projected on to the wider picture for the UK post Brexit.
"In essence, it puts forward a proposal for what is known elsewhere in the world as a 'Smart Border' where customs and other border practices keep the border open, such as release before clearance, deferred duty payments and clearance away from the border.
"For example, it suggests a process where hauliers make a submission to customs before their truck arrives at the border and by the time it arrives, the driver gets a text message saying whether they are free to proceed or not. In 99.9 per cent of cases the driver would be free to go. This would involve entering a simplified entry before crossing the border and then a post-import supplementary declaration would be carried out retrospectively. This two-step process would hugely smooth the flow of goods, versus current customs processes.
"I believe trusted trader solutions which embrace technology and simplicity, such as automatic number plate recognition, enhanced driver licenses, barcode scanning and smartphone apps, are the way forward.
"There has been a real lack of clarity to date upon what customs requirements will be post Brexit. And whilst this is only a report, I think that it is comforting to know that the EU's own investigation into how to handle these matters in future has come up with these conclusions. The UK authorities have stated over and again that they would like to see as frictionless a border as possible, so I find it hard to imagine that these conclusions would be opposed in Whitehall.
"Whilst this matter is far from concluded, it appears that we are heading in a sensible direction, and I am optimistic that we will get a sensible and efficient customs solution post Brexit."