Carol Lynch, Partner in Customs and International Trade Services, featured in the Business Post discussing the trade reliefs, customs training and the increasing importance of customs compliance.
Post Brexit, many Irish businesses are struggling with the details of the new trading arrangements, says Carol.
Since January 1, 2021, all exports and imports to the Republic from Britain legally require customs clearance documentation.
“There are many changes for Irish importers and exporters,” Carol said. “Last year’s priority was to make things work. It was important to ensure that you had developed your knowledge of customs, that your staff were trained, and that you had the relevant authorisations and procedures in place. Now, businesses need to look at how these new procedures are working.”
Last year, it was all about getting your goods into Ireland and the UK and keeping things moving, and there was an urgent need for businesses to get to grips with the new customs rules.
In 2021, the focus for most businesses trading with Britain was moving their goods across the border with minimal unnecessary delays. It now seems that the daily movement of goods is happening without any major delays.
“This year, people are looking at their importing and exporting processes more strategically and asking themselves if they are taking advantage of the trade agreement and all of the reliefs that are available. Is everything compliant and what are they paying in customs duties?”
Carol added that while the first three months of last year were quite chaotic, particularly in the food and perishables area, this started to even out from the end of March 2021.
Additionally, importers and exporters are increasingly shipping around Britain to avoid unnecessary customs checks on intra-EU movements.
“We are seeing that goods are now increasingly moving around rather than through the UK. This is slower and a little bit more expensive but more efficient in the long run.”
“Irish traders were reasonably well prepared,” says Carol. “Our Government had been very proactive and there were lots of education and training courses available, with Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and Bord Bia conducting Brexit mentoring, training and Prepare Your Business for Customs workshops. In general, Irish companies had put a lot of groundwork in.”
But there is a big difference between being prepared in theory and being hit with the reality. “Covid didn’t help the situation and companies now have to move onwards and really look at the details of their import and export processes.”
Because there is so much information out there, companies don’t know how to sieve through it. “It is vital, however, to understand what information is relevant to you and to your business.”
The most important thing at this point is to really understand your compliance and duty payments, but also to get the paperwork from your agents, she said.
“With daily trade now being conducted without major delays, businesses now need to focus on customs compliance to avoid administrative penalties. Look at those and analyse them. Make sure you are taking advantage of the duty agreements out there. To avoid unnecessary administrative penalties, traders should familiarise themselves with the content and requirements of a customs declaration and ensure they are getting these documents and auditing them.”
Carol advises businesses to check if they are eligible for customs reliefs, for example obtaining Duty Suspensions for goods imported for manufacturing and re-export back to Britain. “Also, check how much are you paying in your clearance costs? Are you getting value for money there from your agents? Is there more you can get in terms of data analytics?”
“Start doing internal audits on your declarations and look at the opportunities.”
Irish businesses hope to maintain a good trading relationship with Britain and our geography requires this. Don’t be put off or scared, she said.
“It is always going to be an important trading partner for Irish business. Some businesses are going to walk away from the British market because of the post-Brexit complications, but this will give opportunities to other businesses to take their place.”
“Once you have the proper procedures in place, the logistics of importing and exporting post Brexit are initially daunting but ultimately completely manageable,” she noted.
She emphasised that companies in Ireland have been trading Internationally for many years and our economy encourages this. Therefore, no-one should be put off by the requirements.
“Seek advice and obtain support from experienced importers, exporters and advisers and business will continue to thrive,” she advised.
Content adapted from the Business Post.
If your business requires assistance with managing its trading requirements, visit BDO Customs and International Trade to learn more about their services or contact [email protected] to talk to a member of the team.