Te ongoing stalemate between the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the EU as well as the ongoing political debates in connection with economic relations and the cooperation framework post the transition period ending on 31 December 2021 have led to uncertainty about what the post-Brexit trade landscape will look like. On 24 December 2020, the EU and UK negotiating teams finally agreed on a far-reaching Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). The TCA is over 1200 pages long and is a complex document that will take some time to fully understand. Nevertheless, it remains of paramount importance for businesses in the remaining EU 27 states with relations with the UK to prepare for the upcoming actual consummation of Brexit and the changes it will bring.
„Regardless of what you think about Brexit, it is now here and it makes sense from a business perspective to prepare for the contingencies and developments that still exist, especially in light of the agreed trade and cooperation agreement. It's not too late to start taking the necessary steps.“
Jane Evans, BDO Germany
Trade in goods and provision of services with the United Kingdom will in future be based on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded on 24 December 2020: this includes, in principle, free, fair and sustainable trade, without tariffs, without quotas and within the framework of a broad economic, social and ecological partnership. Nevertheless, the practice is unlikely to be the same with the EU or with other third countries. Rather, the special regulations of the agreement, e.g. for exports and imports, must be observed.
Yes the TCA contains provisions (e.g. for self-certification, self-declarations, mutual recognition of trusted trader programmes and a common definition of international standards) all of which are designed to simplify new customs procedures and prevent unnecessary technical barriers to trade. However there will be at best a bumpy period as the new rules come into force.
Accordingly, customs declarations must be prepared and, if necessary, export/import licences applied for. In addition, customs duties may well be incurred in certain constellations. For duty exemption or benefits, companies must in any case calculate the preferential origin of goods according to the respective rules of origin and apply for or issue the corresponding proofs of origin.