On 9 October 2017, the Department for International Trade (DIT), HM Treasury, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) announced the publication of separate trade and customs white papers that will pave the way for legislation that will ensure the UK is ready for the first day after EU exit. The announcement stated:
The government has taken a significant step in preparing to leave the EU by setting out arrangements for post-Brexit trade and customs policy.
Trade and Customs White Papers published today pave the way for legislation that will ensure the UK is ready for the first day after exit.
The Trade White Paper published by the Department for International Trade establishes the principles that will guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that will support those aims.
- taking steps to enable the UK to maintain the benefits of the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement
- ensuring the UK can support developing economies by continuing to give them preferential access to UK markets
- preparing to bring across into UK law existing trade agreements between EU and non-EU countries
- creating a new, UK trade remedies investigating authority
International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:
We want to build a future trade policy that delivers benefits for the UK’s economy and for businesses, workers and consumers alike.
This paper is the first exciting step and sets out the principles behind an approach which will help British businesses to make the most of trade opportunities, contribute to a growing economy and create prosperity for communities up and down the UK.
Also published today is the Treasury’s Customs Bill White Paper, which sets out plans to legislate for the standalone customs, VAT and excise regimes the UK will need once it leaves the EU.
In August the government set out its proposals for an ambitious new customs relationship with the EU and confirmed that, regardless of the outcome of negotiations, the UK would need new customs laws in place by March 2019. Responding to calls from businesses for continuity, today’s White Paper confirms that the UK’s new legislation will, as far as possible, replicate the effect of existing EU customs laws.
In addition, while the government has repeatedly said that we are confident that a positive deal can be reached with the EU, it is only prudent that we prepare for every possible outcome. Therefore, the paper covers provisions for the implementation of customs, VAT and excise regimes in the event that no deal is reached, and sets out the steps the government would take to minimise disruption for businesses and travellers. It also enables the UK to prepare for a range of negotiated outcomes including an implementation period.
The Customs Bill will give the UK the power to:
- charge customs duty on goods; define how goods will be classified , set and vary the rates of customs duty and any quotas
- amend the VAT and excise regimes so that they can function effectively post-exit
- set out the rules governing how HMRC will collect and enforce the taxes and duties owed
- implement tax-related elements of the UK’s future trade policy
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:
Investment and trade are crucial to the economic future of this country. This White Paper sets out our plan to keep trade with the EU as frictionless as possible, and reaffirms the government’s commitment to deliver a smooth transition.