Much of the focus since the UK decided to leave the EU has been on two inter-related issues, namely immigration and trade. The issues relating to trade really turn on the UK's status once it has left the EU and, in particular, whether the UK retains membership of the single market and/ or the customs union, or whether some alternative arrangement is reached. While it now looks virtually certain that the UK will leave the single market, the position in respect of the customs union is less certain.
This article looks first at the current position, and in particular the significance for businesses (both importers and exporters) of the UK's membership of the customs union. The article then considers the impact if the UK were no longer a member of the customs union, and highlights some of the issues which may have an impact on UK ports.
CURRENT STATUS – THE UK'S MEMBERSHIP OF THE EU CUSTOMS UNION
On 17 January 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain would no longer be a full member of the EU customs union after Brexit, so that the country would no longer be bound by the customs union's Common Commercial Policy and Common External Tariff.
So what is the customs union and what are the EU's Common Commercial Policy and Common External Tariff?