WTO Agreements must now deliver progress
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for agreements reached at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference to be translated into real change for businesses.
Following the conclusion of the conference last Thursday evening, William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said: “The most important decision for many firms will be the eleventh-hour renewal, for 18 months at least, of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission of products. This is a key boost for exporters.
“We also welcome the renewed commitment for the WTO secretariat to work with business so we can make these agreements work to strengthen trade and economic growth globally.
“Key issues like food security and vaccines saw sufficient progress to avert forthcoming crises, but on these, together with subsidies, digital trade, and WTO reform, further steps are badly needed.
“We hope for many opportunities to engage in Geneva on key business priorities for action and reform ahead of the next Ministerial Conference at the end of 2023.”
Over 160 countries attended the event which agreed tangible outcomes to aid the global economy and make progress in a number of areas.
- Renewal of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission of products until the next Ministerial Conference if held at the end of 2023 or until the end of March 2024 if it is delayed
- Exclusion of UN World Food Programme destined products from any export bans
- Waivers from the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement to secure continuity of vaccine supplies in the COVID-19 pandemic
- Re-commitment towards WTO reform agenda before next Ministerial Conference and fully functioning dispute resolution system in place by 2024.
- Dedicated sessions on transit issues annually until next review of the Trade Facilitation Agreement
- Commitment to renewed business engagement by the WTO Secretariat team.
Uncertainty remains on future of standards marking system
The BCC has welcomed the announcement of four new easements on conformity assessment markings.
Responding to the planned policy changes, Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, said: “It’s good news that the UK Government has listened to business in providing these new easements to support cashflow and costs in these difficult economic times. There will be relief on the pragmatic solution reached on spare parts and repairs.
“Usage of EU certificates will cut duplicate testing costs, which firms could have faced early next year to place goods on the market in Great Britain. Those companies, which have the resources to do so, will also have the flexibility of importing CE-marked goods before the end of the year and placing these on the market in Great Britain without subsequent relabelling.
“After the end of 2022 however, firms will face significant new cost pressures from the introduction of the new markings system.
“Uncertainties also still exist in terms of what will happen to markings in Northern Ireland. The current arrangements also suggest that CE-only marked goods, brought over from Northern Ireland, could continue to be placed on the market in Great Britain, whereas those from the rest of the world could not, beyond the end of 2025.
“There is some way to go before businesses will have complete assurance about the operation of the new markings systems.”
This written ministerial statement on the markings of industrial, construction, electrical and electronics will be subject to secondary legislation and updated guidance by the UK Government.
The four measures are to:
- Allow certificates issued by EU conformity assessment bodies before the end of 2022 to be used as the basis for subsequent UKCA marking certification
- Permit existing imported goods (before January 2023) to be treated as being already placed on the GB market eliminating the need for relabelling of products
- Clarify that imported spare parts which repair or replace goods already on the GB market meet the same requirements as the existing goods
- Facilitate goods being able to have UKCA marking, and importer details added via a sticky label, or accompanying paperwork, until 31 December 2025.
Step by Step Understanding a Customs Declaration
Thursday 7 July, 9.30am-1.00pm
This course will highlight what you need to know to complete customs declarations accurately and efficiently for both the import and export of goods, including taking you through step-by-step guidance on completing the SAD C88 form. We will also look at some of the common pitfalls and make attendees aware of the mistakes often made by newcomers to customs declarations.
Understanding Rules of Origin
Thursday 14 July, 9.30am-1.00pm
This session will explain all aspects of the Rules of Origin and Trade Agreements and how to understand and comply with them to help companies be more competitive in export markets.
Tuesday 19 July, 9.30am-1.00pm
This course will cover a number of points around logistics including:
Import / Export Diagnostics
- Definitions of transport
- Differences with pallets
- Cargo and marine insurance
- Hazardous goods and dangerous goods notes
- Understanding commodity codes
- The role of your customer and the paperwork
Thursday 11 August, 9.30am-1.00pm
This workshop goes through key areas of procedures and compliance, preparing you for trading internationally either by exporting or importing. We will talk you through the steps you should take to get your procedures in order to ensure you meet HMRC requirements should they come out and inspect you.
You can view the full list of all our courses on the Chamber website.
Courses can also be tailored to meet your company’s specific requirements. For more information about a bespoke course for your company, which can be delivered remotely or in person, please contact the Chamber on 01223 237414.
The UK government has published a policy paper and a new Bill on the Northern Ireland Protocol. The BCC has been engaging with UK and EU officials. We have produced a briefing on the new developments, what they mean for business, and our engagement activities.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics covering UK trade in April 2022 was published last week. An upswing in fuels, machinery and transport devices exports to the EU was reflected in the figures.
New research from Aston University has quantified the impact on food exports to the EU of post-Brexit paperwork - a reduction in food exports in the first half of 2021 by 13.7% compared with 2019. Read the BCC comments on the need for an SPS agreement in the FT’s coverage of the research.
The Singapore-UK Digital Economy Agreement entered into force last Tuesday. Read BCC's comments on the completion of ratification here.