Rules of Origin and customs special procedures dominated an IOE&IT webinar held this week on the UK-EU Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect at 11pm on 31 December.
More than 3000 delegates attended the webinar on Tuesday 5 January – the largest ever turnout for a webinar hosted by the Institute of Export.
The topic: understanding how UK traders can gain from a deal that took 10 months of negotiation, not to mention some brinkmanship, governing £668bn-worth of trade between the UK and the EU.
Perhaps the biggest headline from the 1,246-page ‘EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement’ is the provision for zero tariffs for exports and imports – provided Rules of Origin are met.
With nearly 50% of all UK exported goods going to the EU, many of those exporters face Rules of Origin obligations for the first time.
Rules of Origin
Presenter Kevin Shakespeare, the IOE&IT’s director of stakeholder engagement, began by saying that “Rules of Origin have become a key aspect of, not just trade with the EU but with rest of the world also”.
Indeed, in a straw poll of attendees, three quarters said they either needed to know more about Rules of Origin or they didn’t understand them.
Even though the FTA gives UK exporters a one-year grace period on Rules of Origin, they still should know the origin of their imported parts and goods and keep accurate records during this time, delegates were told.
Firms were urged to consider using trade and customs procedures, which require HMRC authorisation, as a way of extracting most benefit from the FTA.
“Financial guarantees are no longer needed for using special procedures – a big boost for adopting these measures that benefits the whole supply chain,” Shakespeare said.
Asked which special procedures they were currently using, a majority of attendees picked inward and outward processing, followed by ‘approved exporter’ status.
Inward processing allows imported raw materials or semi-manufactured goods to be processed for re-export without having to pay customs duty and VAT on the goods being used. Outward processing allows traders to claim relief on goods temporarily exported for processing or repair.
“You know what you do best,” Shakespeare told attendees. “Now's the time to trade effectively using trade and customs facilitations and procedures,” he said.
The IOE&IT provides education and training to professionalise the UK’s international traders and has a range of courses to help UK businesses benefit from post-EU transition opportunities, including on Special Procedures and Rules of Origin.
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