If you’re a UK manufacturer with a base in Northern Ireland and customers or suppliers in the EU, you’ve probably been scanning Brexit news for quite a while to keep tabs on developments that could impact your operations. Recently, ‘Article 16’ has been making headlines and creating confusion, especially for manufacturers and suppliers with export capabilities. Let’s clear up the confusion, at least in terms of UK (including NI) exports to Scandinavia.
Supply chain management is a highly complex sector, where all cogs in the wheel must be fully functional and interconnected for things to proceed smoothly. The more complex the system, the more elements can potentially go wrong. As most supply chain and logistics professionals know, it’s crucial to anticipate problems and to have reliable support to cope with them. This article offers an overview of current issues in supply chain management, and explains why it’s worth working with a freight forwarding partner.
In May 2021, exports of British goods to the European Union (EU) hit a twenty month high, according to official statistics. This marks a welcome reversal of the trend at the beginning of the year, when Britain left the bloc's customs union and single market. The total value of British goods exported in May, excluding precious metals, was £27.9 billion. This figure is higher than any month since January 2020, shortly before COVID-19 started to wreak havoc.
International shipping costs rose in January and February 2021 across the board, affecting the cost of trade between the UK and the EU. Bloomberg notes that the average for quoted courier rates has increased by a third to half of their previous value between November 2020 and February 2021. Reuters also reports that UK-EU export traffic has fallen by 68% on January 2020 levels.
The UK-EU Trading Agreement agreed before the end of the Brexit transition guaranteed mutual recognition of goods and waived all import duties. The only day-to-day change is the requirement for importers to file some additional import paperwork, in line with what is already required for UK imports from non-EU countries.
Imports and exports between the UK and the EU (including Norway) now need to state the item’s commodity code. These codes are drawn from the globally-recognised, WTO-approved Harmonised Code (HS) system, so the commodity code for a shipment of bricks, for example, is the same whether it comes from Germany, India, or Ghana. HS Codes are ten-digit quick reference strings that tell readers the broad category, specifics, variant, and country of origin of the goods they're describing. Here's how they work:
Brexit has meant a few changes to the customs paperwork needed to send or receive goods between the UK and Scandinavian countries. Thanks to the 2020 Trade Agreement, most customs regulations will fundamentally remain the same. However, you'll now need to provide more information to customs officials than you might have once expected. Here's what to supply: