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uk trade

Businesses have been told to start preparing now for the changes that the government is planning to introduce to how international trade operates in the UK at the end of 2023.

The British government is due to publish its new border plan – the Target Operating Model – this autumn, following its decision not to introduce remaining post-Brexit import controls in April this year.

Speaking at a free webinar today (22 August), the Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director of strategic partnerships and international development, Kevin Shakespeare, advised that there will be “plenty of positives” for traders in the new plan, particularly around trade facilitation.

‘Trade is changing’

Although the Target Operating Model is yet to be published, the IOE&IT has been a key stakeholder in its development, acting as an interlocutor between government and industry, Shakespeare said.

The IOE&IT was running the webinar to advise traders of the significant changes that the government’s plans will introduce, as well as their benefits.

“Trade is changing – both in terms of imports and exports,” Shakespeare said. “There is a significant opportunity for businesses to benefit from this, so you should start to prepare for this future direction of travel for trade.”


Efficiency drive

Possible changes mentioned in the webinar included the use of a Single Trade Window system to reduce the number of data inputs across the supply chain and the introduction of Trusted Trader schemes.

Shakespeare and co-panellist Suzanne Alecrim, a customs and trade specialist at the IOE&IT, gave an overview of how these initiatives would lead to a possible simplification of processes around:

  • providing safety and security information
  • sanitary and phytosanitary checks on plant- and animal-based goods entering Britain

“Industry would operate a lot more efficiently if we reduced the amount of data inputs that are currently required across the supply chain,” said Alecrim. “A Single Trade Window system would have a greater emphasis on the pre-population of data, allowing for the reduction in the duplication of data inputs.”

‘Evolving plan’

Shakespeare added that the government’s plan was “evolving” and that the webinar was also run in order to encourage traders to provide feedback.

“We’re still in listening mode,” he said. “Some of the great ideas in the Target Operating Model have come from our interactions with industry. There’s still the opportunity to influence the direction of travel.”

He encouraged attendees at the webinar to complete a survey the IOE&IT is running this week to gather industry thoughts about some of the government’s proposed plans.  

Information building

The government is expected to publish the new border model in the autumn, with a view to introducing changes at the end of 2023.

Awareness among UK traders of some of the key concepts that are likely to be included in the new plan – including the Single Trade Window and the creation of an ‘Ecosystem of Trust’ – remains relatively low, but is growing.

At today’s webinar, a quarter of the delegates said they had either a “strong” or “quite strong” understanding of these concepts, with over a half (52%) saying they had a “weak understanding” and just under a quarter (23%) saying they had “no understanding”.

However, this marks an increase in awareness compared to when the same poll was asked in May and June. In May, only 8% of respondents said they had a strong or quite strong understanding, while this figure was 13% in June.

stw poll

Positive shift

Shakespeare said the upward trajectory was “positive”, particularly as the Single Trade Window and Ecosystem of Trust are relatively new concepts to UK traders.

“We want to increase this understanding further and make sure that all businesses benefit from these wider global and UK initiatives,” he said.