Not a new EU video but a reminder that beyond politics, the EU is a trade organisation, which puts economic needs first.
As we write this, the first quarter of our post EU history is coming to a close. Trade bodies and the media continue to highlight lower UK/EU trade, with opinions varying from this lasting until the summer, to a year or more.
A notably out of kilter level playing field is a further bone of contention, with import checks from the EU postponed, yet in force in the other direction.
We do sympathise with every business affected, although can report that at least one aspect of trade is working as expected. Temporary exports are proceeding without many hitches, due to the use of an established system.
Clarity & ATA Carnets
The carnet approach has been in place for 60 years, covers around 80 countries and is well understood by customs officers across the globe.
There is no reliance on recent UK/EU trade negotiations, or the lack of them. Even the Office for Budget Responsibility has stated that the thin Brexit deal will lower UK growth in the longer term.
We would not wish to argue with them but carnets could be part of recovery. They are an additional cost, yet not substantially so, remain in place for multiple trips over a year and were designed to encourage trade.
Once inside the EU, business travellers are back in the pre Brexit position, without borders. They can focus on displaying their wares, or carrying out short term contracts, with the assurance that clarity brings.
Whatever our individual views on Brexit, this has happened and we need to move forward in a new environment, as barriers gradually ease.
The reality is that some will remain, although absent border posts will be built in time, the failure to recruit customs agents and border staff can be overcome. Regulations between the EU and UK should reach a better balance.
The present imbalance is in a sense unfair but without this, we would see empty shelves in the shops. Similar applies to the number of empty vehicles crossing the channel, undesirable but trade needs to keep moving.
Ministers have now asked local chambers of commerce to train new customs agents. The issue of lack of information and training for chamber staff has to be dealt with, although in the medium term, the approach should help.
Looking To The Future
Few would disagree that the promised free and frictionless trade is currently absent, although what we are seeing happen with ATA carnets for the EU can be be replicated given time and the will to do so.
As the video above suggests, economic requirements should take precedence once any animosity dies down. The UK is a major and local partner for the EU, over the next few years, regulations will equalise and probably relax.
Britain traded with Europe for thousands of years before the EU existed, doing so makes cultural and economic sense. We are pleased that the ATA carnet system is playing a part in rebuilding a bond we all value.