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Industry faces up to post-Brexit compliance challenges

Commitments by the UK government to leave the EU Customs Union will require the UK to rethink approaches to compliance and the transfer of goods to and from the continent

A significant number of regulatory compliance challenges linked to the trade of specialist goods such as cooling equipment and other related components will need to be addressed as a result of the UK government’s intention to leave the European Customs Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed in February that her government would not seek to remain part of the arrangement that allows for goods to travel within the EU without duties being levied on them. The customs union contains a precondition that requires international trade agreements to be negotiated by the European Commission and not individual member states.

The UK this week provisionally reaching a draft agreement for its withdrawal from the EU. This draft arrangement detailed this week would see a 21 month “transition period” whereby final details can be hammered out by the two parties while maintaining some key functions and responsibilities of EU membership.

Clarity is still being sought by business and industry on a number of issues.

A number of major manufacturers of AC and refrigeration equipment with production facilities across the EU say they continue to face uncertainty over how any new custom arrangements may impact future distribution.

Business and trade bodies have in recent months called for clear detail on the final direction of Brexit, including determining future commitments to F-Gas regulation and compliance with standards such as the Ecodesign and the Energy Labelling initiatives.

Asercom, the association of European Refrigeration Component Manufacturers, said the issue of leaving the customs union would affect all transfer of goods between the UK and EU, with no specific additional concerns expected for HVAC equipment and parts.

However, the association added that any additional administrative burden or delays to the trade of goods would not be welcome by any industry.

Russel Beattie, chief executive of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA), said the referendum decision was always going to require significant amounts of detail to be considered in order to unpick decades of the UK’s involvement in EU policy making and legislation.

He argued therefore that it was folly to assume all existing regulations would cease to apply with the EU’s exit from the EU.

Mr Beattie said, “in terms of our sector, we share the same issues as manufacturing in general, albeit that energy and climate change driven policies (such as Ecodesign and EPBD) have a direct relevance for us.”

The full feature can be read on page 10 of the March issue of RAC Magazine. A digital edition is available here.

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