The creation of a single-entry point for border data allowing parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information and documents.
If the aftermath of our departure from the single market has taught us anything it is the need to simplify paperwork and systems for international trade. The Single Trade Window, if implemented correctly, could offer that simplification and enable traders the opportunity to concentrate on what they do best, which is to sell and not be bogged down by endless bureaucracy. The UK government has committed to this as part of its agreement with the EU and has pledged to spend 180 million GBP on the creation of simplified and standardised data entry. The ambition, as stated in the UK Border Strategy, is to create the ‘world’s most effective border.
The single window idea is not new, the SAD (Single Administrative Document, C88) launched in 1992 was supposed to be part of this initiative. The advantage of a STW clearly lies in less duplication and time savings for users.
The UK are not alone in developing a Single Trade Window. Customs administrations such as Singapore, Sweden, the USA and New Zealand already have one in place. We can learn from these countries’ experiences to inform our development and implementation of the UK Single Trade Window, but we need to question how successful (or otherwise) the implementation has been in the countries mentioned.
Questions also arise as to how easy (or difficult) implementation will be for smaller UK exporters and importers who are still struggling with the volatile environment that is international trade in the 21st century. The aftermath of Brexit brought significant change to trading with the EU; the effects of which still reverberate among trading companies. Traders have also battled with the pandemic and shortage of employees with specific skills. Furthermore, they are trying to cope with trade wars, supply chain disruptions and significant conflict in markets and countries across the globe. Quotas, embargoes and sanctions are common, restricting opportunities for growth.
Looking forward, the transition from CHIEF to CDS is being implemented and the focus for 2022 is on transit requirements and solutions to the Northern Ireland protocol. All this against a background of digital transformation, currency fluctuations, hybrid working patterns and a published target of gaining £1 trillion’s worth of sales by 2030!
The delivery must not be politicised in any way and should be managed by a cross party parliamentary process
All departments involved should be ready to launch at the same time as businesses cannot cope with piecemeal changes
Guidance created and promulgated by HMRC should be in plain English and all communications support and representative within this project
Clarity should be provided on the integrity and security of data
That the WCO Data Model is GDPR compliant when data is shared with other countries
That there is a human interface for concerns and errors and an associated process to amend data when inaccurate
That the STW can be accessed from all parts of the UK – internet strength is imperative to ensure nationwide accessibility
That the self-declaration function offers signposting to services provided by independent international trade advisors as well as Chambers, IOE and DIT
That the STW integrates with and complements the Free Trade Zone Data set
The aim of technical interoperability with other countries be subject to industry-wide consultation before any commercially confidential UK data is shared
That government recognise the value, experience, qualifications and skills of independent international trade advisors and experts in building this project
Simplification is key.
UK Single Trade Window – Policy discussion paper. 1.12.21
Leidos – Single trade Window: What could this mean to UK PLC?