British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive Helen Dickinson has urged the European Commission and the UK government to reach an agreement on customs policy to ensure the free movement of goods after the UK leaves the European Union.
The UK government published proposals for a “frictionless” custom trade agreement, but the plans were dismissed as ”fantasy” by Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s leader on Brexit.
Dickinson said: “A deal to ensure strong co-operation between the UK and EU on customs policy is crucial to keep goods flowing between the UK and our key European markets in 2019 and beyond.
”This is crucial to avoid additional customs requirements, notably on rules of origin and new declarations, which would pose the most significant barrier to the free flow of goods. We will also need a deal on mutual recognition agreements to effectively minimise red tape on goods movements between the UK and the EU post-Brexit.
“However, a customs union in itself won’t solve the problem of delays at ports. To ensure supply chains are not disrupted and goods can continue to move between markets as efficiently as possible, a suite of accompanying deals between the UK and EU are required on security, haulage, transit, drivers and VAT.”