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Negotiating objectives for Brexit: Customs

Negotiating objectives for brexit

We are publishing the first in a series of papers on the new deep and special partnership the UK wants to build with the EU.

As the UK leaves the EU and its customs union, we will be guided by what delivers the greatest economic advantage to the UK. We want our new customs arrangements to meet three objectives:

● to keep trade with the EU as frictionless as possible;

● to avoid a ‘hard border’ between Ireland and Northern Ireland;

● and to establish an independent international trade policy.

And of course we must avoid any arrangement that creates customs barriers within the UK. We are proposing two different ways that would best meet these goals achieve this:

• a highly streamlined customs arrangement in which the UK would manage a new customs border with the EU, streamlining and simplifying requirements to the fullest extent possible through negotiated and unilateral facilitations which reduce and remove barriers to trade; or

• a new customs partnership with the EU, based on alignment of our customs approaches, which would negate the need for a customs border between the UK and the EU.

Both options have their advantages. The point is to achieve our goals, not how we do so. Which option we end up with depends on what businesses think will work best for them, and which arrangement EU countries want to have with us.

For practical reasons either option would take time to implement: for the Government here and governments of neighbouring countries to put in place the new system, and also for businesses to adapt. That is why we are proposing a time-limited interim period when the UK could be in a temporary customs union with the EU. This would prevent a cliff edge and disruption for businesses, so we keep the process of leaving the EU smooth and orderly, as we’ve always said.

We will be taking forward discussions on these proposals with business and other interested parties over the summer.