A whole ranges of measures have either been implemented or will be coming on stream in the near future.

Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo said:

“The aim is to position the UK at the forefront of modernisation within international trade, by simplifying procedures for the trade and keeping pace with the developments in electronic commerce.

“Customs has developed its new procedures by working in partnership with the trade so that the innovative solutions are appropriate and acceptable to the wide range of UK importers and exporters.

Government has also fought hard to obtain worthwhile benefits for UK business within the EC, G7 and World Customs Organisation, because many worthwhile changes can only be brought about through international agreement.”

The new measures include:

Electronic customs procedures for exporters of goods to non EU countries to be introduced from July 2001.

New computerised transit system for goods that transit through the Common Transit European countries on their way to a third country destination are expected to be introduced by mid 2002.

Work is proceeding within the G7 framework to develop standardised and simplified customs data requirements and procedures. These will reduce global bureaucratic barriers and the cost of such barriers to international trade and development.

The Single European Authorisation pilot project (SEA) has begun – this will simplify the collection of customs duty for companies who import goods from non EU countries into more than one EU country.

Simplified procedures for importers of goods from non EU countries were introduced in 1997

An electronic form for EU trade data was launched in December 1998 and an enhanced version was introduced on 1 June this year.

Simplified procedures for reporting intra-EC trade statistics are still under discussion. The UK will make as many changes as are possible and intends to give companies 10 extra days before data need be submitted.

Customs and Excise are giving presentations today on the new export system, SEA and Intrastat on 6 June at the Intrade Exhibition at Olympia in London. Our stand is stand no 150 and we will be pleased to answer queries visitors may have.

Notes to Editors

1. The Single Market which began on 1 January 1993 removed or simplified most of the customs procedures that had existed for trade between European Union countries. Since then The UK has sought to reduce intra EC statistical requirements even further. Additional simplification measures have been under discussion for some time, we are optimistic that these will be decided before the end of this year.

2. Customs and Excise and business want to further improve the existing customs procedures for trade. However these issues often involve other countries and there is a limited amount of change the UK can make unilaterally. To this end Customs has worked very closely with UK business and lobbied on their behalf within the EU, G7 and the World Customs Organisation.

3. There is a common philosophy behind all these measures. Freight procedures should be simple, and based on a simple legal framework. Maximum use should be made of the advantages information technology offers – this also contributes to the Government’s goal of increasing the range of Government services that can be accessed electronically. We are working towards reduced, simplified and harmonised information requirements. We are developing the new procedures by working in partnership with the trade, and with other Customs administrations.

4. A simplified system for exporters to non EU countries will be introduced in July next year. This will be an electronic system linked to the new Community Transit system when that is available around a year later. Benefits for the trade include immediate positive clearance of goods with inland and frontier models to suit your business. However manual pre entry will still be available.

5. It will mean traders have electronic links with other Government Departments such as the DTI and Intervention Board. For example electronic input will speed up payment of CAP refunds on goods that are exported. It could also be used to allow access to other Customs initiatives such as SEA and G7 when these are up and running. There will also be administrative efficiencies for Customs.

6. A new computerised system for Common and Community Transit covering transit of goods between 22 European countries, and exports that transit through other Member States on their way to a third country, are expected to be introduced by mid 2002. The UK has been pushing hard for the new system as it will reduce fraud and also speed up trade.

7. In the longer term we are working with the G7 countries to introduce harmonised and simplified customs data and procedures. Where possible readily available commercial data will be used. Data will be electronically exchanged between Customs and traders creating a paperless environment. Customs Administrations will need to capture the data only once which will avoid the same data needing to be provided at different stages of the import/export process.

8. In partnership with the international trading community, we are developing a G7 prototype to test and evaluate this in an operational environment. The import data-sets are expected to be introduced by December 2000 and the export data-sets will be introduced in conjunction with the new export system . If the prototype project is successful then this system may be used more widely between the G7 countries and other countries around the world.

9. The first of 12 UK Single European Authorisation pilot projects began on the first of March with the Netherlands. Currently goods imported into the EU must be declared and Customs duty paid at the EU country of entry. However since Customs duty is set at the same rate across the EU, under the pilot project a company importing non EU goods into more than one EU country will only deal with one nominated Customs service – the one in the authorising Member State. If the pilot works this system may eventually apply across the whole of the EU, reducing red tape and bureaucracy and providing administrative savings for companies and Member States.

10. The Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) for Imports have already been introduced. Formalities at the frontier for non EU imports are kept to a minimum with the bulk of fiscal and statistical data being supplied to Customs at a later date. You must be authorised by Customs to operate under the new system – if you are interested please contact your local Customs and Excise Business Advice Centre listed under Customs and Excise in the telephone book, or your CFSP Link officer (contact list available on our internet address given below).

11. Benefits include certainty of clearance of your goods by Customs. There are one or more simplified procedures you can use to suit the needs of your business. There are also possible cash flow and paperless trading benefits through a greatly reduced level of documentation at the frontier.

12. The Intrastat system is the system to collect trade figures for UK trade with other EU Member States. To date over 2,000 traders have registered to use the internet e-form to submit their Intrastat declarations. The remaining 29,000 registered Intrastat traders will be receiving details of the new system in August, to encourage them to move over to electronic declarations.

For further information traders and their advisers should contact their local Customs and Excise Business Advice Centre listed under Customs and Excise in the telephone book.

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