BIFA now supports extension of ‘Transitional Simplified Procedures’ in no-deal Brexit

With U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt at a third vote in Parliament over a Brexit deal appeared to be falling apart today, there may be a glimmer of hope for the logistics industry in the face of what looks to be an inevitable “no-deal” Brexit nightmare.

The British International Freight Association (BIFA), has apparently changed its position on a February government proposal to impose Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) to all seaports and airports in the U.K., allowing importers to transport goods from the European Union into the U.K. without having to make full and immediate customs declarations at the border.

Instead, under the TSP plan, proposed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department, importers will have until Oct. 4, 2019, to pay any duties on supplementary customs declarations. Any subsequent declarations must then be submitted monthly.

Robert Keen, director general of BIFA, which represents U.K.-based freight forwarders, said the association had originally criticized the TSP plan, saying that some of the easements contained in the language might give an unfair advantage for new applicants to obtain these authorizations and discriminate against already existing BIFA members.

But the new TSP proposal announced on Friday, BIFA said, “provides more time to make the necessary preparations, fully test the systems, establish the communication links between the parties involved in the processes, and make sure that everyone concerned is aware of their responsibilities.”

“But most importantly, we are pleased that HMRC has agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients,” Keen said. “We now welcome the news that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the date when the first supplementary customs declarations must be submitted, and any import duties must be paid, has been extended to Oct. 4.”

Keen called the revised TSP “a very significant easement of policy,” for which BIFA and other logistics groups had lobbied hard, to ensure all modes were treated equally. However, he added, “It should be noted that much confusion and effort could have been saved if [the] government had consulted with the trade in the first place.”

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