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Have your say on Future Tariff Schedules and the creation of Freeports

Published on: 13 February 2020


The Government has recently launched two consultations. The first looks at Future Tariff Schedules and the second looks at the potential creation of up to 10 Freeports across the UK.

The new UK Global Tariff Schedule will apply to goods imported into the UK from 1 January 2021 unless an exception, such as a preferential arrangement or tariff suspension, applies.

The tariff will not apply to goods coming from developing countries that benefit under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences or to goods originating from countries with which the UK has negotiated a Free Trade Agreement. The Northern Ireland / Ireland Protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement provides for certain specific arrangements as regards to Northern Ireland.

In terms of the second consultation, the Government is seeking feedback on the creation of up to 10 Freeports across the UK. Freeports are areas within a country’s land border where different customs rules apply. They have been used around the world to drive investment and growth.

Consultation on Future Tariff Schedule

The Government is seeking feedback on a potential series of amendments as the UK moves away from the EU’s Common External Tariff. The consultation offers respondents the opportunity to provide:

  • Views on changes to the Common External Tariff to create a bespoke UK tariff regime
  • Specific feedback on individual products or commodity codes of importance to them, including on the corresponding tariff rate
  • Information on their interactions with most favoured nation (MFN) tariffs and the importance of tariffs to their sectors

The Government will also be seeking views through a series of events across the UK by engaging with businesses, business representatives, consumers, civil society groups, associations and other interested individuals and organisations.

Once the consultation closes, the Government will carefully consider all available evidence including responses to this consultation on a Future Tariff Schedule.

The UK will continue to apply the EU’s Common External Tariff throughout the transition period. This will apply, as it does currently, to all goods imported from outside the EU until the transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020.

Our members should note that government previously developed the Temporary Tariff Regime (TTR). The TTR, published in March 2019, was developed for a possible scenario in which the UK left the EU without a deal. As the Withdrawal Agreement was approved by both the EU and the UK, this scenario is no longer relevant.

This consultation closes at 23:59 on 5 March 2020. The consultation can be accessed here.

Consultation on Freeports

The Government has also launched a consultation on Freeports policy, allocation and governance.

Freeports are commonly defined as a place inside a country’s land border where different customs rules apply.

Freeports are designed to act as innovation hubs, boost global trade, attract inward investment and increase productivity.

Countries around the world have successfully used Freeports to drive investment and prosperity. The Government has drawn on evidence from successful Freeports around the world to develop a UK Freeport model which includes the Devolved Administrations.

The proposed model includes tariff flexibility, customs facilitations and tax measures. Part of the proposals also includes planning reforms, additional targeted funding for infrastructure improvements, and measures to incentivise innovation.

The consultation on Freeports closes at 23:59 on 20 April 2020. The consultation can be accessed here.