This is a truly historic day - I disagree with David (and @pmdfoster). And that doesn't happen often!

Customs and trade facilitation chapters in FTAs are quite generic. The actual, tangible cooperation and facilitation often occur informally, through a bilateral dialogue.
for me, it’s not a question of how often the Customs Committee meets but the conversations that take place on a completely different level – customs administration to customs administration, officer to officer.

There are two completely different levels here:

1⃣ customs, SPS and border formalities and requirements

2⃣ day-to-day operational issues

Customs cooperation will not change the fact that rules of origin prevent certain goods from being traded tariff-free or won't change the amount of paperwork required. The committees won’t make SPS checks unnecessary.

What is possible is smoothing out of all the smaller, operational challenges that lead to delays and paperwork being rejected.

Questions around the colour of the pen that needs to be used to fill in forms, the confusion around what an origin statement needs to look like (the fact that it differs between the UK and the EU), etc.

FTAs provide only a framework for customs cooperation and trade facilitation.
The text of the agreement is only like 10%. The 90% is implementation. And that is not governed by the text but happens through building bilateral dialogue and trust.

And the Committee is part of that process (albeit a small one). But it's part of a wider structure.
It's not there to solve the problems - more to take stock of what's been happening.

Like a steering committee that oversees the bilateral cooperation process which in itself is not, and should not be, formal.

Cause at the end of the day it’s about who does the border officer call when they have a doubt about paperwork? And if an issue occurs, how quickly can the customs authorities of both countries communicate and act.

I think this type of customs cooperation and its role in minimising border delays cannot be underestimated.

And the Committee is like the meeting of heads of state during FTA negotiations - symbolic, provides political direction (even decisions), but that's not where the work happens.


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More from @AnnaJerzewska

25 Apr
Take it from someone who spends part of the time working on export promotion strategies in various countries around the world that “getting more of them to export” is not as easy as it sounds.

Having an FTA in place is step one. And it doesn’t mean very much without supporting policies. I wonder if (I hope) the Gov is well aware of this.

In order to achieve any returns on this investment (negotiating and FTA) further, far less “sexy”, policies are required: i.e. around awareness, guidance, access to financing etc.

Read 5 tweets
19 Apr
How to combine a customs union and bilateral trade deals?

A question widely discussed a few years back in the context of Brexit but one that's much bigger than that.

A couple of thoughts on that based on @_AnabelG's superb blog for @PIIE.

In principle CU members are not meant to sign their own FTAs but as @_AnabelG points out few of the existing CUs are perfect.

Many CUs are partial and some are a hybrid between a CU and an FTA – e.g. include rules of origin.

As a reminder: CU members have a common external tariff applied to all 3rd parties.

As a result, they can eliminate tariffs and other quantitative restrictions amongst themselves. Customs formalities and checks are still in place.

Read 12 tweets
24 Mar
At the heart of this entire mess is one thing and one thing only:

How do you communicate the scale of the new barriers to trade that are going to be introduced when for political reasons you are obliged to spin it as liberalisation?

It's not that the UK Gov didn't realise what was coming.

HMRC, DEFRA and other departments know these 3rd country rules inside out. They've got experts of their own in customs, SPS and everything else.

These Departments were well aware of requirements such as RoOs or health certificates.

But for some reason, whether it was lack of communication, deliberate decision or something else, that knowledge did not translate into a clear message from the UK Gov.

Read 11 tweets
22 Mar
Keep getting asked what are the chances HMRC will find out if you use an incorrect commodity code or declare preferential origin when you can't substantiate it.

And it usually makes me think of this TikTok


More importantly, though, I'm not entirely sure companies understand how important a "good compliance record" is in the long run.

If you look at the UK Trader Scheme, or other simplification etc a good compliance record is always a requirement.

Read 5 tweets
22 Mar
If you don't work in trade and have not been speaking to companies - read this🧵

Couple of really important points here:

1⃣ Companies will experience the consequences of the new formalities differently: for some things are working well(ish), others are no longer able to trade and their entire business model has collapsed.

It's a spectrum - where you are on that spectrum depends on your supply chain, industry etc.

Read 8 tweets
11 Mar
🚨🛃On today’s announcement regarding extending customs and SPS easements for imports into the UK.

A (longish)🧵: What’s happening? Which simplifications are being extended? And, more importantly, why?

2/ The story broke over the weekend following requests from the industry (I will come back to this).

See threads from @Joe_Mayes and @adampayne26

So what's changing?

3/ On customs (in blue):

The option to defer customs declarations for 6 months has been extended until 2022.

IMPORTANT - for goods imported until now declarations will still be due in July. But e.g. declarations for goods imported in July can be submitted in Jan 2022
Read 18 tweets

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