Britain will pilot “smart” customs borders to reduce trade frictions


The British government will begin testing “smart” customs borders involving cutting-edge technology next year, hoping that this will reduce trade frictions for British importers.

According to senior Whitehall officials, British companies will be asked to bid for the trial of the new system this week, with the aim of starting trials at a port in May.

The announcement of the plan was described as the establishment of a “Rolls-Royce Cargo Transportation System” when the government was preparing to implement comprehensive customs inspections on EU imports from January.

Last week, the Small Business Federation of Trade Organizations, warn Only a quarter of companies are ready to handle the new paperwork, including real-time customs declarations and providing advance notifications to the British authorities for the import of animal and plant products.

In order to smoothly resolve the border issues after Brexit, the UK has pledged to spend 180 million pounds to establish a “single trade window” system by 2025, which will enable UK border agencies including the UK Revenue and Customs and health authorities. Share real-time information.

Ideas expected to be tested in mid-term trials in 2022 include shipping container seals that automatically alert the authorities if they are tampered with, and geographic tracking of cargo using GPS technology to capture any unscheduled trucks that stop or change lanes.

Officials say that, over time, these technologies should help create highly auditable supply chains that are easy to monitor, allowing companies to conduct more self-assessments far from the border than they currently do.

They added that the government hopes to avoid the traps of previous state-owned IT projects by directly entering the UK business and technology industry. “We want big and bold solutions,” an official said.

The location of the six-month long-term trial is still to be determined, but it will be a “living port environment” where ports, technology suppliers, and import and export companies can demonstrate the effectiveness of the system.

Since the UK is no longer bound by EU rules, ministers are expected to claim that the new border is a benefit of Brexit. In October last year, Lord David Frost, the Secretary of State for Brexit, Said The UK “never takes the same level of inspection as the EU.”

However, the EU is also developing a “Single Customs Window” This may reduce some of the burden on the EU for British exporters in the future.

Experts welcomed the UK’s plan to use technology to reduce the burden on the border. In 2019, the British Customs Service estimated that this would require nearly 200 million more customs declarations, which would cost British companies an annual cost of 7.5 billion pounds.

Sam Lowe of consulting firm Flint Global said that Britain’s reliance on high-speed, “rolling” trade with the EU may incentivize the UK to digitize its borders at a faster rate than the EU.

“In the next 10 years, out of absolute necessity, the UK may have one of the most efficient borders in the world, and you can say that this is some kind of’Brexit bonus’,” he added.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby group, said that if the test proves successful, trade facilitation may bring benefits, but the government should give priority to improving the EU-UK trade agreement.

“These tests should not be seen as an alternative to deeper customs cooperation between the UK and the EU,” he added. “If we are to smoothly pass the GB-EU customs border for traders, further agreements are really important.”

David Henig, a former British trade negotiator, said he welcomes any desire to simplify trade, but he warned that the government’s record in delivering such projects in recent years is “not good”.

He added that even if the bureaucracy of goods entering the UK from the European continent is reduced, this will still be “far greater than the seamless trade that the UK enjoys as a member of the EU single market”.



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