Oakland’s Robert Hardy talks about keeping the wheels of industry moving. As we start the new year, there’s one topic dominating the business headlines. Brexit. But what should wholesalers and their suppliers be doing?

Oakland International and Oakland Invicta Commercial Director, Robert Hardy.

Oakland International and Oakland Invicta Commercial Director, Robert Hardy, is a certified Customs specialist preparing food businesses for Brexit. He is also a Brexit advisor to The Institute for Government, a funded advisor to InterTradeIreland and a registered international trade expert with the EU Commission. Robert Hardy spoke to Wholesale Manager:

“With the political landscape resembling sand dunes in the wind it would be easy to reel off pages of possibilities and options. It would be easy to highlight all of the factors that contribute to the current feeling of uncertainty, but that’s never been our way of doing things. The best course of action right now is to plan for NO DEAL and see anything else as a bonus. This is the approach we should have taken since 29th March 2017.

“Lucky for some, this is precisely the approach we have been taking at Oakland. Having previously run the largest 24hour Customs terminal in the UK and having more than 35 years’ experience in Customs procedures it is relatively simple to see how the NO DEAL border processes might work. “Exports from EU to UK are unlikely to be delayed. The export process can be cumbersome, but not if you are motivated to avoid it being so. Will French authorities delay the export of French cheese to the UK? Of course not.

Similarly, will UK Customs want to delay the import of French cheese and hold trucks at Dover until they are satisfied that the cheese that was okay yesterday is still okay today? Again, of course not! We often hear of potential friction at the border, but you must remember that Customs have no intention of getting in the way of legitimate trade, they are there to identify illegitimate trade.”

So, how do you tell the difference? It is not always easy, says Robert Hardy, but if the importer is pre-registered – “or trusted, if you prefer the term” – then the control is already in place and there is no need to stop and check:

“Authorised Economic Operator – AEO – status is often referred to as ‘trusted’ but it is only one piece in the process. Customs simplifications such as CFSP – Customs Freight Simplified Procedures – are more important right now. You do not need to be AEO approved to be CFSP approved.”

How does CFSP help? Robert Hardy explains:

“The import process is super slick, quick and easy. A simplified frontier declaration is pre-lodged and the vehicle passes straight through Calais and Dover without stopping for Customs. Goods are delivered and free to dispose of as you wish. The final declaration is due by the fourth working day of the following month. That’s it. Too easy? It is for those that have registered and been approved.”

If your NO DEAL Brexit planning doesn’t include evaluating CFSP and AEO, then Robert Hardy reckons you are probably doing it wrong. You can get a free copy of Oakland’s Brexit and Customs plan by going to www.mybrexit.uk/engage.

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