'Acid test' ahead for GB importers as post-Christmas EU trade flows ramp up next week

Fri 7 Jan 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

British importers of goods from the EU have yet to face the ‘acid test’ of adapting to new rules requiring import declarations and use of the government’s new border control IT system, GVMS.

This is despite the fact that those new rules were introduced on Saturday 1 January, requiring importers to make customs declarations into HMRC’s systems (CHIEF or CDS).

And if a haulier is entering GB via ports that now employ the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), those declarations must be pre-lodged before departure and validated on GVMS, in order for a haulier’s load to be accepted onboard vessels leaving the EU for GB.

Firms must also prove their goods qualify for preferential tariff rates by meeting the rules of origin set out in by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, while businesses bringing in certain plant or animal-based goods must pre-notify border authorities of their imports.

EU post-Xmas return

While there were teething problems with GVMS – the system crashed on the first full day of operation – the IOE&IT said it had “received relatively few reports from members of problems at the border”.

IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione said: “Of the issues that have arisen up to now, we believe they are mostly due to traders’ unfamiliarity with the new systems.”

He added: “However, the acid test will come next week when European firms return from their Christmas holidays and the levels of imports ramp up – including from non-British companies who may have been less exposed to the information, advice and guidance that has supported their UK counterparts.” 

IOE&IT poll: ‘we’re prepared’

A straw poll of British companies taken by the IOE&IT this week found that almost two-thirds (62%) had plans in place to help them cope with the changes and that a further 25% had plans to do so.  

The IOE&IT poll results, which featured a cross section of British companies from SMEs to global multinationals, indicated “that British business have largely dealt with the challenges that have been thrown at them, something for which traders should be congratulated”, Forgione said. 

'Stockpiling'

Anticipated problems with EU-to-GB border checks may have been mitigated further by companies stockpiling ahead of the new year, according to The Grocer.

The British Frozen Food Federation told The Grocer it had not yet heard of “any reports of serious disruption” since the turn of the year, but added that there was still “potential for massive delays and food supply issues” with the new border regime.

CEO Richard Harrow said: “We understand that many food businesses have built up stock in December to shield themselves from the expected problems with the new import rules.”