Will new digital systems improve UK’s cross-border trade?

Posted on 22 Jul 2020 by Jonny Williamson

The government has launched a consultation on its 2025 UK Border Strategy to explore how new digital systems can improve trader and traveller experience and make the UK more secure.

On December 31, 2020 the UK transition period with the EU will end, and the UK will operate a full, external border as a sovereign nation.

The 2025 Border Strategy consultation seeks the views and expertise of a range of organisations to help develop plans for an effective border that leverages new technologies and innovations.

Using the ideas gathered through the consultation, the government is due to publish a 2025 UK Border Strategy by the end of the year setting out a clear vision and roadmap that the government and border industry, working together, can deliver.

The government’s ambition is for a transformed border by 2025 that will:

  • reduce administrative costs and burdens for traders to improve the end-to-end experience for those moving goods across the border
  • improve the experience of travellers, for example by using digital identification systems
  • improve how the UK is protected from those who may pose a risk, for example by deterring and disrupting organised crime and terrorism, identifying and preventing biosecurity threats, and preventing abuse of the migration system

Government is intending to work with industry to build a more user-centric border, moving processes away from the border where appropriate and using digital systems to enable the swift clearance of goods and people.

Regarding the role of technology, the consultation’s supporting document states: “Technology and consumer demand for speed and predictability require a change in the way borders operate.

“The rise in e-commerce will produce an anticipated ~60% growth in cross-border fast parcels over the next five years . Border efficiency will be key to meeting 72-hour global door-to-door standards expected by customers . Advances in technologies that can harness the value of data and automate and digitise processes, give the UK the opportunity to meet those expectations.

“Finally, the efficiency and ease of crossing the border for legitimate passengers and trade are important measures for international firms making the investment decisions that the UK wishes to attract.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak commented: “Our ambition to build the world’s most effective and efficient border will ensure the UK takes full advantage of our new status as an independent trading nation.

“We will harness new technology to create a digital border, supporting businesses to import and export with ease and at low cost, and supporting our aims to bring the brightest and best talent from around the world to the UK.”

The consultation is open for six weeks and is due to close on 28 August.

The consultation can be found here.