Brexit where are we now- August 2020

While it might seem that we are in the same position as last year; the reality is that the UK is now a non-EU country. Brexit has not gone away and significant gaps remain between the two sides on fundamental issues, including in particular the Level Playing Field and Fisheries. This poses a threat to the conclusion of a Trade Agreement this year. In this article we look at how things stand currently, what the next steps will include and the key questions that Importers and Exporters are asking. EU-UK Future Relationship Negotiations The talks on a Free Trade Agreement are still stalled with both sides reporting that there is unlikely to be a Trade Agreement concluded this year. Talks will however continue in September and October so we will be monitoring progress. By way of recap the FTA talks will determine whether customs duty is payable on imports into Ireland from the UK, or on exports to the UK. Transition Period – will there be an extension? The simple answer to this is unfortunately no. The deadline for seeking an extension was 30th June and this has passed without a request for same. In fact the UK have stated clearly they do not want any extension. Northern Ireland Protocol The Withdrawal Agreement provides that NI will remain in the UK Customs Territory but will continue to apply the EU Customs regulations. This means that there will be no Customs Controls on goods moving between N.I. and ROI Current issues in relation to the NI Protocol revolve around;
  • The preparations for the implementation of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.
  • The UK’s plans for the introduction of customs procedures for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, as well as for the necessary sanitary and phytosanitary controls, and other regulatory checks.
Lack of availability of Clearance Agents Recent reports have suggested that there continues to be a serious shortage of Customs Clearance Agents for post Brexit trade.          In the UK, the figures report a need for 50,000 agents; while in Ireland we believe there is a shortage of around 3,000 agents.                This is an issue that is going to continue to arise and cause concern as we move towards the end of the year. Business Readiness According to Simon Coveney the Government remains committed to ensuring businesses are as ready as they can be and Brexit preparation will necessarily be part of a wider business recovery agenda. Phil Hogan, the EU Commissioner for Trade, has also advised companies to reactivate contingency plans they developed over recent years or risk a logistical nightmare. What should Importers and Exporters do? Advice remains the same – continue to prepare for a “worst-case” scenario. As the Minister Coveney has advised the Dáil; “Even the best possible FTA will impact supply chain and trade flows and result in checks and controls in both directions… make no mistake change is coming and we need to be ready for it…” At BDO, we recommend that you continue to take all steps to:
  • Ensure you have the procedures put in place to Import and Export goods post Brexit,
  • Have all documents and authorisations in place, and
  • Have access to clearance either in-house or through a 3rd Party.

If you have any queries related to the above, please contact