Monday 16 September 2019

'Exporters to keep UK land bridge after Brexit'

Simon McKeever of the Irish Exporters Association
Simon McKeever of the Irish Exporters Association

Colm Kelpie

Irish exporters that go through Britain to get their produce to mainland Europe or further afield should still be able to do so after Brexit, the Revenue Commissioners expect.

Michael Colgan, head of Revenue's Brexit Unit, said it is the body's "working assumption" that the UK land bridge for firms would still be available.

Two-thirds of exporters go through Britain, and expectations of continued use of the land bridge will come as a huge relief.

Currently, the common transit procedure of the EU is used for the movement of goods between the 28 EU member states, the EFTA countries, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.

The rules are effectively identical to those of the Union transit.

According to the European Commission, these are used for customs transit operations between member states and are applicable to the movement of non-Union goods for which customs duties and other charges at import are at stake, and of Union goods, which, between their point of departure and point of destination in the EU, have to pass through the territory of a third country.

"The transit is a computerised system. It works electronically. It works very well. We would envisage that land bridge movements would be catered for by that [post Brexit]," Mr Colgan said. "That is our working assumption".

A survey carried out by the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) earlier this year found that two-thirds of exporters go through Britain to get their produce to customers on mainland Europe and further afield.

And 40pc said that using a longer, yet more direct, route would adversely affect the quality of the product.

The IEA said the number of exporters relying on the UK as a land bridge to the continent was "hugely significant".

"Our working assumption is that the UK will be in the common transit after Brexit," Mr Colgan told a Brexit business event organised by InterTradeIreland.

Separately, IEA head Simon McKeever told the Irish Independent that businesses are becoming increasingly interested in getting registered as Authorised Economic Operators in case of the need for customs checks after Brexit.

In those cases, checks are carried out in the facilities owned by those operators by customs officials.

"The big concern for our members is customs. It is no longer currency. It's absolutely the customs side of things."

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