The FTA has said that the customs declaration service (CDS) is not fit for Brexit purposes. This comes after the National Audit Office’s report was published on the progress of the CDS.
The association has “raised serious concerns about the progress of the project, and its suitability to handle the anticipated levels of Customs declarations at British ports post-Brexit.”
“With only two months anticipated between the delivery of the CDS programme and the UK’s departure from the EU, it is imperative that all the potential problems have been ironed out in the system before implementation,” says James Hookham, FTA’s deputy chief executive. “Without assurances that the rigorous stress tests recommended by the NAO have been undertaken, to ensure the Customs system can cope with the high volumes of traffic it will be handling, HMRC will be creating unnecessary uncertainty for British businesses, at a time stable trading conditions will be vital for our economy.
“But there is no mention how exporters and importers, their agents and their carriers will be trained in time to make this a smooth transition to Keep Britain Trading.
“It is irresponsible to suggest that a programme like CDS can be introduced overnight, and it is vital that the government and its negotiators do not leave business on a cliff edge, with no deal agreed at the UK’s point of departure from the EU. Britain’s economy needs a transitional period to ensure that Customs declarations can be moved to a new handling system in a controlled and managed method. To do otherwise could be disastrous for the UK.”