Much of yesterday’s “future partnership paper” was sensible—but some of its long-term proposals should be rejectedby Aarti Shankar / August 16, 2017 / Leave a comment
The publication yesterday of the UK’s future partnership paper on UK-EU customs arrangements post-Brexit was a welcome development, providing both insight on government thinking for the future of UK-EU customs and trade, and offering the business community grounding for greater engagement. While the government’s preference for transitional customs arrangements that largely mimic the status quo is sensible, some ideas for longer-term options risk creating obstacles to the UK pursuing a genuinely independent trade policy post-Brexit.
The paper confirms that the UK will formally withdraw from the EU’s Customs Union as it leaves the EU in March 2019. It states the government’s preference for a temporary interim period of “close association” with the EU to follow, which looks largely to retain the status quo for UK-EU customs arrangements. This was expected given the recent cabinet consensus in favour of a time-limited “implementation period” to minimise disruption immediately after Brexit.
A like-for-like interim customs model is sensible—it provides the necessary breathing space for any new systems and infrastructure to be put in place to manage bilateral trade in goods in the future. It offers businesses certainty that they can continue to operate under current procedures for the near future, with changes expected only at the end of a transition stage, rather than in 2019. The EU is also likely to be open to a like-for-like model, given that it ensures least disruption for EU businesses—although it is likely to call for greater clarification on the UK’s relationship with the single market the EU’s Court of Justice during any transition.