Brexit Could Leave 'Food Rotting At The Border', Warn MPs

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 14, 2017

The Commons' Public Accounts Committee urged HMRC to "bang on the doors of the Treasury" to secure the funding it needs to scale up its Customs Declarations Service (CDS) and develop contingency plans in case Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal in March 2019.

"HMRC is under considerable pressure to deliver the new Customs Declaration Service in time, but it does not yet have funding to increase the capacity of CDS to deal with the consequences of Brexit - nor to develop contingency options".

Its report warns that "much remains to be done" to have an effective CDS system ready on time and urged the Treasury to ensure that funding is in place to develop contingency plans to avoid gaps in the service.

These include "scaling up" the CDS service to handle 255 million declarations and ensuring a viable contingency option is in place well before January 2019.

"It is clear that there will be many problems if the new customs system is not in place and functioning efficiently by the scheduled date that the United Kingdom is set to leave the European single market and the Customs Union in March 2019".

"There are financial as well as operational implications of not acting now".

Failure to complete a new customs system by the date of Brexit in 2019 will cause massive queues at Dover, a report has warned.

"HMRC tells us it is merely "in conversation" over CHIEF upgrade costs when, on behalf of business and the British public, it should be banging on the doors of the Treasury". With the hard deadline of Brexit, delay is not an option.

HMRC boss John Thompson warned MPs last month that he would need significantly more staff if Britain was to cope properly with a collapse in negotiations with Brussels over trade deals.

In 2015, around 55 million customs declarations were made by 141,000 traders.

It said that HMRC's latest estimate is that 132,000 traders will have to make customs declarations for the first time once the United Kingdom leaves the EU. "This compares to over 6,000 trusted traders in Germany". It argues that HMRC must prioritise CDS to ensure a successful delivery. As part of its plans to broaden engagement with traders, it should also promote the benefits of obtaining trusted trader status and aim to increase the number of registered traders, the PAC said.

It also urged HMRC to ensure that the CDS system and the CHIEF contingency option are capable of managing 255m customs declarations every year, while providing the flexibility to meet the wider challenges of an integrated customs and trade system for the United Kingdom, such as managing changes to tariffs, free trade agreements and global trade quotas.

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