Leaving the EU offers us an opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves in the world, to negotiate our own trade agreements and to be a positive and powerful force for free trade. Central to our proposal is a free trade area for goods, supported by a common rulebook for those rules necessary to provide frictionless trade at the border and a new facilitated customs arrangement. This will help to secure the complex supply chains and just-in-time manufacturing processes that we have developed with the EU over the past 40 years. This will give businesses certainty and clarity and preserve those jobs that rely on frictionless trade at the border.
A key component of the free trade area will be our proposal for a facilitated customs arrangement, or FCA. This is a business-friendly model that removes the need for any new routine customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU while enabling the UK to control its own tariffs and boost trade with the rest of the world. Under this arrangement, the UK would apply the EU’s tariffs to goods intended for the EU and its own tariffs and policy to goods intended for consumption here in the UK.
In contrast to the earlier proposal for a new customs partnership, the FCA will be an up-front system. This means that most businesses would pay the right tariff to begin with, rather than receiving a rebate at the point of final consumption. Other businesses could claim a tariff repayment as soon as possible in the supply chain. We will agree the circumstances in which repayments can be granted with the EU and, as the White Paper makes clear, we will negotiate a reciprocal tariff revenue formula, taking account of goods destined for the UK entering via the EU and goods destined for the EU entering via the UK. This model has the specific advantage of protecting UK-EU supply and value chains and the businesses that rely on them. For example, Airbus manufactures wings for all its civil aircraft in North Wales. These are then transported to the continent for final assembly. In Dagenham, Ford manufactures diesel powertrains for export to the EU. As well as supporting businesses, this approach would meet our shared commitment to Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that respects the EU’s autonomy without harming the UK’s constitutional and economic integrity.