With the UK’s corona chaos, it is almost easy to forget that only around 4 months are left before the Brexit comes into full force, with the major headache on all trade processes that this entails. Customs procedures are just one change, and a very significant one that all involved have fretted about since the referendum decision fell back in 2016. Descartes offer a web-based e-customs solution designed to “Help[ing] to Enable Compliance with Customs Regulations & Procedures in the UK and Beyond”, as stated on their website, which KLG Europe and G.B. Agencies have adopted in preparation of the upcoming deadline.
From 01JAN21, when the UK officially becomes a “third country” to the EU, the outlook forecasted is bleak: shipment delays, processing errors, warehousing space problems, exorbitant storage fees, road conjestion, and a whole host of other issues – both forecasted and unforeseen, as an estimated 180,000 UK traders may face making customs declarations for the first time. All this hanging on trade agreements which are still going round in circles despite the desire to finally have an agreement by the end of OCT20, and which the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, commented on 21AUG20 that: "too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forward. [...] Today, at this stage, an agreement between the UK and the EU seems unlikely. I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time."
“UK steps up plans to train 50,000 form fillers for post-Brexit trade”
The Financial Times reported on Gove’s “customs agents academy” back in MAY20 (though the Academy website is up since 2019), where part of the already invested GBP 34 million in preparing the country’s agents, freight forwarders and parcel operators for post-Brexit customs life, would also be used to train up 50,000 new staff before the end of this year. Their task: filling in the estimated addtional 200 million customs forms (annually) for post-Brexit trade with the EU. As a comparison to show the magnitude of the task: an experienced customs agent can handle about 20 forms a day.
Where there are problems, there are digital solutions
Pol Sweeney, VP Sales and Business Manager UK for Descartes, illustrated its e-customs solution, pointing out that “The Brexit process has been long and complicated” and that the tool looks to minimize the coming disruptions with the huge increase, overnight, in the number of customs forms to be handled. “As the 1st January 2021 fast approaches, businesses must implement the tools they need to be able to continue their operations with the same, or even increased efficiency. Brexit will have vast implications for any company importing or exporting out of the UK and this is where a comprehensive solution to manage all customs declaration types becomes a critical component.”
Descartes’ e-Customs single, web-based interface enables the effective management of inbound and outbound customs declarations, thus ensuring that products continue to move efficiently and compliantly in and out of the country, regardless of an increase in document traffic. Productivity is also increased through the smart digital solution.
G.B. Agencies cannot afford delays within its logistics chain
Timothy O’Mahoney, Shipping Network Manager, G.B. Agencies, a company which deals with over 2 million vehicles per year and gained vast experience as user of Descartes’ Impatex shipment management software, explaines why his company belives that the complex customs process surrounding Brexit must not interfere with the product logistics chain: “Working on behalf of our Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), we cannot allow shipments of our customers’ motor vehicles to be delayed entering or leaving the country waiting for customs clearance. [That’s why] we implemented the Descartes e-Customs solution in preparation of the significant increase in customs declarations that we anticipate come 1st January 2021 – as much as a five-fold increase.”
The manager went on to say: “Descartes has played a leading role in our Brexit planning, helping to clear the fog of uncertainty to understand the processes we must follow. We’re confident that with Descartes’ solution we have the right accreditations and software we require to fully facilitate the expectations of our OEMs for import and export of their products into the UK with no customs interruptions post-Brexit.”
KLG Europe will be faced with custom declarations for the first time
95% of KLG Europe’s freight forwarding business is conducted within the EU. For the 5% where it deals with non-EU countries, it has outsourced respective customs declarations work. Therefore, come midnight on 31DEC20, its EU paperwork will jump from zero to 28,000 customs forms per annum. Outsourcing all that would cost money, so the move for an inhouse solution led to Descartes’ e-customs software. Financially assisted through the Government’s Customs Grant Scheme, KLG Europe received training from Descartes, and is now confident that the coming mountain of work will be manageable.
Jamie Wood, General Manager, KLG Europe Bradford Ltd, said. “Ensuring that our day-to-to logistics business remains accurate and efficient for our customers is top priority, so it was absolutely crucial to find a solution that could enable us to cope with the huge extra volume of customs declarations that will be required post Brexit. The customs declaration process is complex, and so the added value of Descartes’ training and knowledge on this has been paramount since deploying the e-Customs solution. Additionally, it has the capability to integrate with our other current systems, eliminating duplication of work. While many Brexit deadlines have come and gone, we’re now confident we will be ready to deal with the 100% increase in customs declarations that will be required from us from 1st January 2021.”
The clock is ticking.
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