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Sanitary and phytosanitary controls: important changes affecting imports of certain products from the European Union into Great Britain

15 September 2021

To facilitate the transition to full border controls on certain imports originating from the European Union (EU) following the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) departure from the EU, the UK introduced phased import controls combined with access for traders to simplified import declaration schemes. It was announced on 14 September 2021 that the UK government has decided to delay further the phase out of certain post-Brexit transitional measures related to goods subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls that are imported from the EU into Great Britain (GB, i.e., the UK excluding Northern Ireland, for which special arrangements exist). Exports from European Economic Area (EEA)/European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries may also benefit from the transitional measures if their standards are fully harmonised with those of the EU.

European Commission proposes revised Energy Taxation Directive

16 July 2021

As part of the “Fit for 55” package, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 55% by 2030, the European Commission on 14 July 2021 published its Proposal for a council directive restructuring the Union framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity (the Energy Taxation Directive or ETD). The key objectives of the proposed changes are to bring in effective environmental taxation of energy products and remove incentives for fossil fuel consumption throughout the EU.

Food industry: important changes to affect select composite product imports

25 February 2021

The final text of a Commission Delegated Regulation, introducing some derogations from the standard rules on official controls regarding the Union agri-food chain, has been made available on 16 February 2021 (hereafter referred to as the “Adopted Delegated Regulation”). Whilst the European Parliament and the Council of the EU can still formulate objections, the foreseen changes should become applicable as from 21 April 2021.

VAT registration: no obligation for UK companies to appoint fiscal representative in Belgium

14 January 2021

The UK-EU future economic partnership agreement reached on 24 December 2020 includes a protocol on administrative cooperation and combating fraud in the field of VAT, as well as mutual assistance for the recovery of claims relating to taxes and duties.

While such protocol mainly concerns the relationships between tax authorities in the UK and those in EU Member States, one practical effect it has for businesses established in the UK is that they should, in principle, be able to register for VAT in EU Member States without the obligation to appoint a fiscal representative.

UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: tariffs and origin implications

11 January 2021

On 24 December 2020, the UK and EU negotiators signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), defining the trading relationship between the two blocs as of 1 January 2021. What follows is a closer look at the implications regarding import tariffs.

Post-Brexit UK-Japan trade agreement: CEPA text published

2 November 2020

On 23 October 2020, the UK government signed and published its first trade agreement as a non-EU Member State with Japan. This agreement is called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership or ‘CEPA’, and will enter into force as of 1 January 2021, which is when the transition period ends and the UK leaves the EU customs territory. CEPA will hence replace the currently applicable trade agreement between both countries.

Brexit: UK government updates ‘Border Operating Model’ (the GB-EU border post-transition)

16 October 2020

On 8 October 2020, the UK government published its updated Border Operating Model. The document aims to provide further guidance regarding how the GB-EU border will operate post-transition, and what actions are required by traders, hauliers and passengers.

COVID-19 response: European Commission prolongs VAT and customs duties relief

24 July 2020

On 23 July 2020, the European Commission announced the extension by three months until 31 October 2020 of the temporary relief for customs duties and VAT on the import of medical equipment from third countries to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Exporting goods out of the European Union

25 June 2020

Since the Union Customs Code’s implementation in 2016, the definition of ‘exporter’ has been the source of interpretation uncertainties.

The rules stipulate that acting as exporter on a customs declaration requires establishment in the Union’s customs territory. This implies that a non-EU established company cannot act as exporter. Most Member States adopted transitional rules to enable non-EU established companies to act as exporter. Across all Member States however, these transitional rules are at an end, meaning that under no circumstances can a non-EU established company be an exporter for customs purposes.

UK publishes its FTA proposal and post-Brexit tariff regime

5 June 2020

On 19 May 2020, the UK published its proposal for an FTA, together with 11 separate agreements. This confirms that unlike the EU, the UK does not seek a comprehensive partnership agreement, but is rather aiming for separate agreements, each covering a subject area; similar to those that the EU has with other countries such as Norway, Canada and Switzerland.

This package of agreements includes the Draft Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (Draft CFTA). The CFTA would significantly differ from the EU’s proposed partnership agreement on several key points.

Alongside the CFTA, the UK government published the list of tariffs that would apply with any country with which it does not have a preferential trade deal after the transition period.

COVID-19 response: import duties relief and VAT exemption

7 April 2020

Member State approved organisations that import products intended for the free of charge distribution to persons affected by, at risk in or combatting the COVID-19 outbreak, are granted with an import duty relief and VAT exemption for the period running from 30 January until 31 July 2020.

On 3 April 2020, the European Commission adopted Commission Decision (EU) 2020/491 on the relief of duties and VAT exemption on imports, which are granted for goods needed to combat the impact brought by COVID-19 outbreak. This comes as a response to multiple Member State requests over the past weeks.

Non-EU companies can no longer act as exporter from the Netherlands as of 1 April 2020

20 November 2019

Dutch Customs will soon implement the requirement for companies to be established in the EU, for the latter to be able to operate as exporter for customs purposes; this in accordance with the updated definition of ‘exporter’ in the Union Customs Code Delegated Act (“UCC DA”).

Last year’s update of the UCC DA, and of Article 1(19) in particular, consequently prohibits the reporting of a non-EU established company as ‘exporter’ of goods in Box 2 of the customs export declaration.

Possible benefits for business in EU-Singapore Trade Agreement

15 November 2019

After eight years of negotiations and an additional year for the ratification procedure, the EU Commission announced that the EU-Singapore Trade Agreement will enter into force on 21 November 2019.

This will mark the first bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the EU and a Southeast Asian country.

US imposes Section 301 tariffs on EU goods: impact estimated at USD 7.5 billion trade value

12 November 2019

On 18 October 2019, following a 2 October 2019 World Trade Organisation (“WTO”) arbitrator’s decision on EU subsidies of EU aircraft production, and pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the US began to assess supplemental tariffs on several EU-origin products. The supplemental tariffs range from 10 to 25 percent, and will trigger an impact of an estimated USD 7.5 billion in trade value, per annum, of EU-origin goods imported into the US.

Brexit deal | Indirect tax implications

18 October 2019

The UK Government and the EU have released a new draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and Political Declaration, which, amongst other things, sets out the UK Government’s policy on the Customs Duty and VAT implications for Northern Ireland of a Brexit deal with the EU.

It should be noted that this Protocol, along with the rest of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, is subject to approval at a special session of UK Parliament sitting this Saturday 19 October 2019. At present, it is by no means certain that the Withdrawal Agreement will be approved.

Once the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the UK Parliament, it will also need to be approved by the EU Parliament. Further to the approved Agreement, there will be a transitional period where the current rules apply until at least 31 December 2020, with an option to extend until 31 December 2021 or 2022.

Post-Brexit, Customs and regulatory checks and tariffs, where applicable, will apply on goods moving between the UK and the EU. From a VAT perspective, supplies of goods between the UK and the EU will be treated as exports and imports. This note deals with special exceptions to the above, which have been proposed in relation to Customs Duty and VAT provisions applying to Northern Ireland.

HMRC’s Transitional Simplified Procedure (TSP) for a potential no-deal Brexit

9 September 2019

The Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP), initially announced by HMRC in February 2019, are a simplified customs process to help with the import of goods into the UK in case a no-deal Brexit occurs.

Furthermore, a guidance has also been published, outlining the conditions under which this procedure can be used.

Belgium Customs Authorities issue further guidance for Brexit Preparations

5 August 2019

On 5 August 2019, the Belgian Customs Authorities published further guidance on the practicalities of trade between the UK and Belgium in a no-deal Brexit scenario. These developments are based on three suppositions, namely (1) the UK will become a third country, (2) goods arriving from the UK will be subject to the Union Customs Code, and (3) that the UK has joined the Common Transit Convention. The Belgium Customs Authorities have stated that their aim is to reduce, to the greatest extent possible, any possible operational delays or disruption as a result of Brexit.

Abolition of the domestic sale concept in the EU

26 July 2019

In October 2018, the European Union (EU) Member States agreed within the European Commission’s Customs Expert Group (CEG) to abolish the “domestic sale” concept related to the customs value determination, which was introduced by the Union Customs Code (UCC). While this abolition has not yet come into effect for all EU Member States, some Member States, such as Belgium, have already decided to take action. This creates an uneven playing field for market operators in the EU.

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