Government urged to get post-Brexit Customs Bill right

Posted on 8 Jan 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Manufacturing trade associations and trade unions have called on the government to amend the Customs’ Bill as it currently fails to “set up post-Brexit trade remedies that will be effective for UK manufacturers”.

customs bill container terminal port logistics supply chain crates - image courtesy of Depositphotos
Anti-dumping legislation prevents the UK from being flooded with cheap imports – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The Taxation (Cross Border Trade) Bill – more commonly known as the Customs Bill – is due to be debated in Parliament today (8 January).

In a letter published in the Financial Times, the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox has been urged to get crucial anti-dumping legislation right or the UK risks being flooded with cheap steel, ceramics and other goods.

The letter has been signed by the Agricultural Industries Confederation, British Glass, British Ceramic Confederation, Chemical Industries Association, Confederation of Paper Industries, Community, GMB, Mineral Products Association, UK Steel, and Unite the Union.

Up until now defending UK manufacturing against floods of unfair imports has been the responsibility of the European Commission under rules set out in EU regulations.

But if Parliament doesn’t pass legislation to allow the new Trade Remedies Authority to be effective, UK manufacturing industries could be left defenceless, with the poorest legislation in the world – risking many thousands of skilled jobs from across the UK.

Director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace noted: “A significant cause of the recent steel crisis was the illegal dumping of steel by Chinese, state-supported producers onto the UK market.

“To ensure this doesn’t happen again, as we leave the EU, the UK needs an effective trade remedies regime that enables free trade to take place in what is a global market. Unfortunately, in its current form, the Customs Bill will fail to achieve this. All we want is a level playing field.”

Dr Laura Cohen, chief executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, commented: “Effective EU trade remedies have helped our sector to recover and grow in recent years.

“We’re deeply worried that the Customs Bill would UK trade remedies that are significantly weaker than the EU or any other major country.  If government take on board our proposed changes, we’d be much happier.”