On 9 October 2017, the Government published two White Papers [https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-vision-for-post-eu-trade-and-customs-policy]. These papers set out the Government’s approach to legislating for the UK’s future trade policy, establishing a standalone customs regime, and ensuring that VAT and excise legislation operates effectively upon EU exit.
The papers reaffirmed the Prime Minister’s commitment to maintaining and maximising the UK’s position as a global free trading nation, once it leaves the EU, both by boosting our trading relationships with old friends and new allies, and by seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU. The paper reiterated that, in assessing the options for the UK’s future customs relationship with the EU, the Government will be guided by delivers the greatest economic advantage to the UK and by three strategic objectives: ensuring UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible; avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and establishing an independent international trade policy.
The White Papers also confirmed the Government’s intention to bring forward a Trade Bill and a Customs Bill before the end of the year, to put in place the necessary legal powers and structures to ensure the UK is ready from the first day after exit. This will help to provide continuity and avoid disruption for individuals, businesses, and international trading partners.
The Trade White Paper asked for comments on three specific aspects of trade policy – transparency of trade policy; trade remedies frameworks; and the design of a future unilateral trade preferences scheme. The closing date for comments has now passed and the Government will shortly issue its response. Wider engagement on our trade policy proposals will continue.
The Government has now tabled resolutions for a Customs Bill – the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill – and is today introducing the Trade Bill to Parliament.
The Trade Bill will:
The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill will:
Combined, these two key pieces of legislation represent a significant step in creating the statutory framework and powers needed to ensure that the UK is ready for EU exit, and providing certainty and continuity for businesses and consumers alike.