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The government will this summer launch a new public consultation into the legislation that it hopes will help pave the way for the digitalisation of international trade in the UK.

HMRC will seek views from traders about data handling and security concerns over its plans to launch a new ‘Single Trade Window’ border system.

HMRC’s head of WTO, trade facilitation and capacity building, Orlando Cantell, made the announcement when speaking at IOE&IT MemberCon22 yesterday (12 July).

Single portal

Cantell described the Single Trade Window – a single sign-on digital portal through which traders can input all customs and trade data relating to a consignment – as the “cornerstone” of the government’s plans to digitalise cross border trade in the UK.

“You won’t have to enter the same commodity codes or submit the same supporting multiple documents multiple times,” he said.

Data sensitivities

One of the major challenges implementing the new Single Trade Window will be data security.

“We have to be very careful about commercially sensitive data,” Cantell said. “We already struggle to share data between different government departments because of all the legal protections around commercial sensitivity.”

However, having commented that policy and regulation will play a significant role in the creation of the UK’s new border systems, he said that there is a “planned consultation which is going to help us understand the legislative needs for the Single Trade Window”, including around data handling.

Not replacing CDS

Cantell also said that the new portal will not replace existing government systems but will instead alter how traders and intermediaries interface with them.

“The Single Trade Window isn’t going to replace the systems we have already, exactly,” he said.

“People will be aware we’ve introduced the Customs Declaration Service recently. We’re not going to scrap that and have the Single Trade Window instead. The Single Trade Window will give it [CDS] the information it needs after collecting the data from the trader.”


He also said that a new ecosystem of trust involving government and industry, created by portals including the Single Trade Window, will allow authorities to have a more “complete picture of goods and consignments”, allowing it to undertake “more sophisticated risking”.               

“If risking becomes more sophisticated, legitimate trade would become more predictable and there will be fewer checks,” he said.

Knowledge key

IOE&IT director of strategic projects and international development, Kevin Shakespeare, praised government for showing “openness” to work with businesses and bodies like the Institute on the delivery of the new border systems.

He advised traders that it was important that they know their supply chains “because legitimate trade will flow quickly when each actor in the chain is pre-approved.”

Addressing concerns from MemberCon22 delegates about data security, Shakespeare agreed with Cantell that traders will need to see a “quid pro quo” from government.

"It’s important that if actors in the supply chain are prepared to provide really detailed information – true consignor, true consignee, country of origin, detailed description of the goods – then they need to see some benefit from that,” he said.