UK trade post-Brexit

Theresa May’s speech the other day certainly flushed out more detail and more complexity regarding the next stage of the Brexit negotiations.

One point she raised and which seems to have been missed is her idea for borderless trade post-Brexit. She suggested that small businesses in Ireland should fly below the radar and be exempt from the new customs tariff regime. I presume she intends to apply that principle across the European Union.

For larger businesses she suggests that every importer and exporter of goods (services?) should be registered with the UK in a new cross border database. They would need, I imagine, to show their fitness to be registered as a ‘trusted trader’ and every subsequent lorry/truck/container would need to supply in advance information on the contents and the applicable tariff payments due. I imagine the new computer system would then generate bills to be paid to the UK Exchequer prior to entry.

If this is acceptable, then the European Union would need to create a similar system across all 27 remaining countries so it could raise applicable customs duties on goods (and services?) entering the EU.

The Customs and Excise Department in Britain estimates that, just for the UK, it would take five years to establish such a complex system for frictionless trade.

My question to Brexiteers is this: who will pay for this and what will we do before the ‘trusted trade’ principle converts to a computerised system? I wonder how the EU intends to emulate a similar system across Europe so it would receive the applicable tariffs due and avoid friction at the borders.

It does seem odd to me that this new information simply slipped into what was a very detailed and erudite speech. Lost in translation or submerged in other complexities. We shall see.

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