Shortages of food and medicines? Really?

Shortages of food and medicines? Really?

by Jon Woods
article from Friday 13, September, 2019

IN THE EVENT of a customs border being re-established as a result of Brexit it is claimed this will lead to shortages of food, medicines and other essentials. This is complete nonsense.

These shortages will allegedly be created because of delays to freight caused by necessary checks by the UK Border Force. Yes, all goods entering and leaving the UK would become subject to customs controls, as they are at present. The problem is that those engaged in “Project Fear” have no clue as to how the border operates.

How it works

Usually entries are made via an intermediary or agent using the customs control system (CHIEF) and the system generates clearances or holds within minutes of submission.

Goods from outside the EU are already subject to these controls and processes and in most cases, clearances are granted upon arrival of the vessel at the UK port in the case of Imports, or upon delivery to the terminal for exports.

As the UK border exists on the EU side of the Channel it is reasonable to conclude that whilst the vehicles will check in uncleared, they can be loaded onto ferries and trains and the vast majority will have been cleared before disembarkation.

The EU border is on the English side and therefore the same arrangements would be able to operate for UK exports. Goods falling outside of these automatic procedures include excise goods (alcohol, tobacco etc), as well as those goods that require specific licensing (pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, etc).

The arrangements are already in place

Arrangements already exist for these goods whether they come from inside or outside the EU and those arrangements will continue with or without Brexit.

Regulations currently in operation for goods arriving from outside the EU require advance manifesting procedures that allow for customs targeting, entries to be submitted ahead of arrival and documents to be pre-lodged for checking.

Existing mechanisms for collection of taxes due on goods mean that companies can set up Simplified Import VAT Accounts (“SIVA”) and Duty Deferment Agreements.

Border examinations are normal

Usually entries are made via an intermediary or agent using the customs control system (CHIEF) and the system generates clearances or holds within minutes of submission.

Goods from outside the EU are already subject to these controls and processes and in most cases, clearances are granted upon arrival of the vessel at the UK port in the case of Imports, or upon delivery to the terminal for exports.

One fact that is undeniable is that a border will mean more entry submissions will need to be made and some goods will be subject to examination. That said, examinations already take place on goods coming to the UK from the EU as part of the necessary controls to stop illegal migration and disrupt the smuggling of narcotics and tobacco.

UK Border Force already has scanners and other sophisticated techniques for maintaining our borders and operate intelligence-based enforcement. The UK Government has already begun recruiting and training more Border Officers. HMRC announced in November 2018 an investment in Customs Agents and Intermediaries to ensure that greater automation and productivity surrounding completing customs declarations.

Preparations under way and funding already awarded

Customs intermediaries and traders completing customs declarations have been awarded funding to upgrade software and hardware and to provide enhanced training in the submission of entries.

Two of my companies have applied for and been granted funding which will enable us to provide secure data transmission in more locations and for our staff to work remotely. This now ensures that submission to HMRC can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

We now have ability to submit entries in all major ports. The installation of the new technology will be complete by the end of September 2019.

The government has engaged extensively with industry bodies and key providers of customs broker services – including freight forwarders, fast parcel operators and independent customs brokers – to better understand the challenges they face in supporting existing and new clients.

Based on this useful engagement, HM Treasury and HMRC announced a one-off investment of £8 million to support broker training. This includes £3m that HMRC is investing to increase training provision in this area.

These grants have been awarded and the increase in capacity is being established and should be complete well before 31 October 2019. This increase in capability and capacity means that UK borders will remain open for business.

So unless the EU27 decide to close their borders to punish the UK for leaving, disruption should be minimal.

Jon Woods FCILT, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. He has been involved in logistics – freight, shipping and transport – for over 30 years. He is based in the port of Felixstowe and runs two logistics companies, with clients involving supermarket chains, retailers, and other major companies who need to import and export products. He is now the Brexit Party PPC for Colchester.

This story first appeared on Facts4EU.org – for more fact-based stories visit its website and donate.

ThinkScotland exists thanks to readers' support - please donate in any currency and often


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter & like and share this article
To comment on this article please go to our facebook page