You said, We did: How IOE and IT represents its members in its engagement with government

Fri 19 Jan 2024
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Features

Business Feedback

One of the Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) core activities is acting as an interlocutor between policymakers and internationally trading businesses, both in the UK and overseas.

This involves both communicating regulatory changes, support schemes and requests for input from government to businesses; as well as sharing businesses’ needs and challenges to officials to ensure policy is developed that enables more firms to trade.

The policymaker-to-business dialogue is often done through the IOE&IT’s main content channels – such as its Daily Update bulletin and webinar programmes – and across its training services. Business-to-government feedback is often shared by IOE&IT through its responses to public consultations and on the various committees its staff sit on, among other engagement activities.

IOE&IT members are vital to this process, says Helen Hastie, the IOE&IT’s membership development manager.

“IOE&IT represents its members in all of its dialogue with policymakers and regularly calls for members to share their views on key policy areas, whether that’s through surveys, polling on webinars, sector-specific special interest groups and roundtables, or at its various events. Members also get the opportunity to test and provide early feedback on government developments relating to trade and customs.

“The government greatly values the insight from our community and we’re glad to say that, through this engagement, IOE&IT members have had an important impact in shaping the policy discussion around key trade topics.

“These topics include the introduction of new freeports and investment zones, introducing voluntary standards for the intermediaries sector and the development of key trade infrastructure such as the Single Trade Window (STW) or Border Target Operating Model (BTOM).”

Ilona Kawka, a digital trade and customs specialist at IOE&IT, adds that IOE&IT is listed as a consulted party on numerous calls for input from industry by the government.

“We have been reflecting our community’s views in our consultations and we have been sharing information with HMRC and other government agencies, on various occasions.

“You can find us listed as a consulted party in the summaries and results of calls for inputs and consultations, while within the text of summaries you can see the anonymised opinions of our members and the trader community that we have communicated.”

‘You said, we did’

In this new monthly feature, IOE&IT will update its members on the organisation’s ongoing engagements with government, sharing examples of where IOE&IT has helped to influence government on its members’ behalf. We will also include a list of key topics where member input is currently required.

In the first edition of this series, we look at some of the IOE&IT’s engagement activities and wins from 2023, particularly within the UK.

To have your voice heard and be a part of our feedback to government on these key trade policy areas, contact us at clientservices@export.org.uk.

Investment zones and freeports

In September 2023, IOE&IT submitted evidence to the Investment Zones and Freeports enquiry, resulting in its director for strategic projects and international development, Kevin Shakespeare, giving oral evidence in parliament in November that year.

At the committee, Shakespeare said that there had been “less engagement from the SME community” with freeports and that more needed to be done to increase this.

“Currently the customs compliance requirements can be met by big businesses, so a support package to help smaller businesses would be helpful,” he said.

The need for assistance on customs was supported by results from an IOE&IT webinar poll from last year, in which simplified customs processes was voted as the most important freeport benefit by attendees.

Regional support

IOE&IT also responded to a call for evidence for expanding support from the Department for Business and Trade (BDT) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, particularly for SMEs.

Paul Brooks, IOE&IT’s head of nations and regions, said he regularly meets with members across the UK to gather their thoughts ahead of responding to consultations such as these.

“IOE&IT is increasingly active in all parts of the UK and launched its Wales arm in March 2023. It is also involved in freeports in Liverpool, Teesside and Anglesey, and runs the Northern Ireland Customs and Trade Academy (NICTA).

“We’re always meeting with members across the nations and regions so that their views are reflected in responses to calls for evidence, such as the one issued by DBT last year, and in the creation of our own policy papers, including the report we published on boosting services export potential across all parts of the country.”

The ‘Global horizons : Realising the services export potential of UK nations and regions’ report was published by IOE&IT in September 2023. This paper was then presented at both major political party conferences.

UK border strategy

IOE&IT has also been engaged with government on its delivery of the 2025 UK Border Strategy, including the development of BTOM and STW.

IOE&IT has gathered members’ views on border strategy across multiple surveys and when polling on the numerous webinars it has hosted on BTOM and STW, many of which have included government representatives as panellists.

It sits on several key committees relating to this policy area, including the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), Border Protocol Delivery Group (BPDG) and Joint Customs Consultative Committee (JCCC), and it has also responded to multiple consultations on BTOM.

IOE&IT senior customs and trade specialist Anna Doherty was recently announced as the new industry chair of the JCCC.

Voluntary standards for customs intermediaries

The IOE&IT also recommended the introduction of standards for the customs intermediaries sector in a policy paper it published in November 2022 titled, ‘Enhanced efficiency: Building a UK border fit for the 21st century’.

Five months after this paper was published, the Chancellor announced that the UK would look to introduce voluntary standards for the sector as part of the Spring Budget customs package.

IOE&IT responded on behalf of its members to the following consultation and hosted a webinar on this topic in July 2023. At that webinar, two thirds (64%) of the attendees said they supported the plan to introduce voluntary standards for brokers.

Committees and working groups IOE&IT sits on

  • Border Protocol Delivery Group (BPDG)
  • Customs Knowledge Community EU – which Kevin Shakespeare chairs
  • GVMS Technical Task & Finish Group
  • HMRC Charter Stakeholder Group
  • ICC Circular Economy Committee
  • Joint Customs Consultative Committee (JCCC) – for which Anna Doherty is industry chair
  • Modernising Authorisations Task & Finish Group
  • National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC)
  • STDF Electronic Certification Advisory Committee (ECAC)
  • Technical Trade Group (TTG)
  • Trade in Services Council (TISC)
  • UN: CEFACT Committees - Digital Identities, Critical Raw Materials and Product Conformity
  • UK Export Academy Advisory Group
  • Welsh Government, Trade Policy Advisory Group (TPAG)
  • Wales Business Council (WBC)
  • WCO Capacity Building Committee – observer status

This list is not exhaustive and IOE&IT staff and board members will sit on other committees not included above.

Consultations IOE&IT responded to in 2023

  • Trade with South Korea: call for input (January 2023)
  • Trade with Turkey: call for input (February 2023)
  • WCO Study Project on possible review of the Harmonized System (HS) (February 2023)
  • New agenda for EU relations with Latin America and Caribbean – call for evidence (February 2023 – European Commission consultation)
  • Labour National Policy Forum (March 2023)
  • Use of the UK-Japan CEPA and future engagement (April 2023 with LSE and British Embassy Tokyo)
  • Target Operating Model (TOM): Feedback response (May 2023)
  • Export-Led Growth – Business and Trade Committee (May 2023)
  • The Performance of Investment Zones and Freeports in England – Business and Trade Committee (June 2023)
  • Simplified Trade System (STS) Consultation Paper (July 2023 – Consultation for Australian Government)
  • Introducing a voluntary standard for customs intermediaries (August 2023)Bringing goods into the UK temporarily – call for evidence (September 2023)
  • Investment Zones and Freeports enquiry (September 2023)
  • The future of customs declarations – call for evidence (September 2023)
  • UK Product Safety Review (October 2023)
  • Expanding DBT Export Support in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – call for evidence (November 2023)

IOE&IT and its members also attended a roundtable hosted by the Bank of England in July 2023 on financial challenges faced by traders.

Topics where your input is needed this month

IOE&IT is continuing to represent its members across a number of key policy areas this year, with a particular focus on the following areas over the coming months:

  • Sustainable trade and the introduction of a UK Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)
  • Free Trade Agreement (FTA) utilisation – how useful have you found FTAs to date? Have you made use of a particular FTA?
  • Critical mineral supply chains

To have your voice heard and be a part of our feedback to government on these key trade policy areas, contact us at clientservices@export.org.uk.