HMRC tenders for £25m customs admin support service for Northern Ireland firms post-transition

Fri 10 Jul 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

HMRC sign

HMRC is tendering for "an end-to-end service to support businesses with new administrative processes" to help Northern Ireland firms with new customs and checks after December 2020.

The service will help NI firms adjust to new processes required for goods moving between Great Britain and NI from the start of next year.

From that point, when the UK’s transition from the EU ends, NI businesses will be required to follow EU rules on goods under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

For firms in Great Britain meanwhile, customs declarations will not be required for goods coming into the country from the EU until July 2021, under the government’s phased plan for border checks.

HMRC tender

The government tender, published on the gov.uk website yesterday (9 July), specifies that HMRC "wants to test the market for a service that can identify and support the education of traders and carriers about their obligations".

It also wants a system that can make electronic declarations compatible with HMRC systems.

In the tender’s preamble, HMRC outlines that the government’s aim is to:

  • deliver unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to the whole of the UK market
  • ensure there are no tariffs on goods remaining within the UK customs territory
  • discharge our obligations without the need for any new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland
  • guarantee that Northern Ireland businesses benefit from the lower tariffs we deliver through our new Free Trade Agreements with third countries.

The contract starts on 1 September 2020 and ends a year later.

'Special provision' for NI food supplies

Elsewhere, environment secretary George Eustice has said the UK is seeking a “special provision” in any UK-EU trade deal to ensure there is no friction over the NI-GB border for key goods such as food supplies.

"I guess the most difficult thing is perhaps around composite loads from supermarkets taking a lorry with multiple products to an individual store in Northern Ireland," he told a House of Lords committee.

"We will be trying to work out whether there can be special provisions on that, otherwise it will cause quite an issue."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Significant divergences’ remain as UK-EU trade talks end early for second consecutive week

Talks for a future trade deal between the UK and EU were cut short for the second week in a row yesterday (9 July), with the EU saying, “significant divergences remain”.

However, negotiations continue to be “constructive” as both sides continue to seek an agreement.

“We are working hard to overcome the significant divergences that remain between us,” a spokesman for the European Commission told a daily news conference. “We are working towards an agreement.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier also tweeted that the two sides remain apart in the negotiations but the EU “continue working with patience, respect & determination.”

‘Not at any price’

Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost met for informal talks earlier in the week and it was reported in the national media that progress had been made on fisheries – one of the major stumbling blocks in the talks so far.

Barnier also told the House of Lords EU Committee that the bloc was “ready to grant equivalence”, which would give the City of London access to European financial markets.

However, he also tweeted earlier in the week to say the EU will agree to a deal, but “not at any price”.

The Telegraph report that Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson this week told each other they are ready to walk away from the talks if the right deal cannot be struck.

Food supply deal for NI?

The UK is due to stop trading under EU trade rules when the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

For businesses in Great Britain, customs declarations will not be required for goods coming into the country from the EU till July 2021, under the government’s phased plan for border checks.

However, for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland checks could come into play from the start of next year, as Northern Ireland will be following EU rules on goods under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

George Eustice, the environment secretary, said the UK is seeking a “special provision” in the UK-EU deal to ensure there is no friction over the NI-GB border for key goods such as food supplies.

"I guess the most difficult thing is perhaps around composite loads from supermarkets taking a lorry with multiple products to an individual store in Northern Ireland," he told a House of Lords committee.

"We will be trying to work out whether there can be special provisions on that, otherwise it will cause quite an issue."

The BBC also report that the UK government is preparing a £25m fund to support companies deal with complications around the Northern Ireland protocol.