Five key international trade announcements from government this week (and it's still only Tuesday…)

Tue 28 Jul 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk tariff

Government is shifting up a gear in its preparations for life post-transition, making multiple announcements each day about how trade will operate once the UK stops trading under EU rules.

Here, the IOE&IT content team has summarised five key developments unveiled this week already that exporters and importers should be aware of.

1. Import VAT

The government yesterday (28 July) released clarification for processes through which firms importing from the EU – and anywhere else from the world – will need to account for import VAT.

VAT-registered companies in the UK will account for import VAT for incoming goods on their return.

This also means firms can declare and recover import VAT on the same return, rather than paying it upfront and recovering it later. Firms are entitled to reclaim VAT paid on goods or services purchased for a business-use.

You can read the government advice on when you can account for VAT on your return here and guidance on how to do it here.

2. List of controlled goods

The government published a list of goods being imported into the UK from the EU that will be controlled and for which a customs declaration will be required from the 1 January 2021.

Declarations for non-controlled, standard goods can be deferred for up to six months post-transition until 1 July, as reported previously.

Further to the list included in the Border Operating Model (Annex C), the list also contains some more details with respect to sanctions, anti-dumping and countervailing duty.

The updated list can be found here.

3. Duty relief for medical goods

As part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government introduced a duty relief for imports of medical supplies, equipment and protective garments.

The government announced on Friday (24 July) that it has extended the period for claiming this tax break once more, moving it from 31 July to 31 October 2020.

Claimants of the duty relief will need to ensure their commodity code is on this list.

4. Fintech scheme for UK-Africa trade

The government yesterday launched a new scheme to enhance the role technologies like fintech can play in expanding access to financial services in emerging markets.

The ‘Tech for Growth’ programme will be piloted in Africa and there are plans to expand it to Latin America and South East Asia.

The pilot will establish “expand access to financial services for underserved communities”, highlight commercial opportunities and trade barriers in Africa, and see the UK collaborate with African governments to grow their tech sectors.

5. Trade and Agriculture Commission

Trade Secretary Liz Truss will today (28 July) formally launch the Trade and Agriculture Commission, which will draw industry and government together to ensure “high standards are upheld and our farmers are able [to] seize new opportunities to export their goods abroad”.

To mark the launch, animal welfare, consumer and environmental groups will meet with Department for International Trade staff at an event in Whitehall.

The commission has been set up amid concerns that the UK could lower food standards and increase sector market access in order to secure trade deals with countries including the US.

The government has been insistent that it will not allow UK food and agriculture to be undercut by cheaper and lower standard imports.