Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

UK Customs admit: “Any form of customs controls will increase costs”

An internal March 2016 document within the UK Customs Administration (known locally as HMRC), leaked by Britain’s Sunday Times on March 26, admits that “Any form of customs controls will increase the costs to businesses and consumers of imported and exported products. These costs can be both financial and measured in time/delays.”

The document was written by Alex Pienaar, HMRC’s head of EU and international relations, customs, in March 2016. He is now head of EU exit policy, customs.

The document flatly contradicts assertions by Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and its Minster for Brexit that it is possible for Britain to leave the European Single Market “frictionlessly”.

With or without a Free Trade deal with the EU, a Britain outside the European Single Market will re-establish Customs controls. Though HMRC has claimed only “up to 10% of consignments” will be stopped for inspection if planned upgrades to Britain’s Customs clearance procedures are delivered on time, it is almost certain that up to 40 million more Customs inspections will be required after Britain leaves the EU.

It appears equally certain that no provision has been made for extra Customs staff, extra inspection facilities or queuing space in Britain’s already congested ports. And, though earlier leaks seemed to indicate apparel and textiles would be a priority in Brexit negotiations, no-one in the trade appears to have been contacted by any officials or politicians