Business development · 7 November 2017

Brexit legislation begins to clear path for future UK trade and customs policy

The Trade Bill enters parliament on 7 November
The government has said it’s set further groundwork for the UK to become its own independent trading nation, with the introduction of two Brexit bills in Westminster.

It is hoped that the Trade Bill and the Customs Bill will offer some certainty to British businesses and their international trading partners, as Brexit negotiations continue.

The Trade Bill enters parliament on 7 November. It includes provisions for Britain to implement existing EU trade agreements, making it more likely UK companies will continue to have access to major government contracts in EU states worth approximately 1.3tn.

Another key measure of the Trade Bill is to create a new trade remedies? organisation, with the ability to defend UK businesses against potentially damaging trading practices.

The Customs Bill, which is set to follow the Trade Bill into parliament, will legislate for further tax-related elements of the UK’s post-Brexit UK trade policy.

It will form part of the creation of a new UK tariff regime, and will include provisions which currently give preferential trade access to UK markets for developing countries.

The Customs Bill will allow the government to create a standalone customs regime and amend the UK’s VAT and excise regimes.

Welcoming in the new UK trade bills, international trade secretary Liam Fox said in a statement: For the first time in over 40 years the UK will be able to shape our own trade and investment agenda and we are determined that businesses and consumers can take advantage of this opportunity.

we are getting on with delivering a successful Brexit, by seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU, and by boosting our existing trading relationships with old partners while opening up access to new and exciting markets across the world.

What measures are included in the new Brexit bills?

Trade Bill Customs Bill
  • Create powers to assist in the transition of over 40 existing trade agreements between the EU and other countries
  • Charge and vary customs duty on goods
  • Enable the UK to become a member of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), ensuring UK firms have continued access to government contracts and procurement opportunities in 47 countries
  • Determine which duties are payable on which goods
  • Set up the Trade Remedies Authority to defend firms against unfair trade practices
  • Set preferential or additional duties in certain instances
  • Ensure the government has the legal abilities for gathering and sharing trade information
  • Continuing the VAT and excise regimes in line with the final deal reached in Brexit negotiations
Majority of small firms will prefer trading with Europe even after Brexit

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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