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Post-Brexit Customs Could Cost Traders £4 Billion, Study Says

  • Government wants to leave EU’s customs union after Brexit
  • Institute for Government is latest to warn of obstacles

Customs declarations at the U.K. border that may be imposed after Brexit would affect 180,000 British traders and could cost them more than 4 billion pounds ($5.28 billion) a year, according to the Institute for Government.

The report published on Monday is the latest to warn the government of the potential obstacles that exporters will face if Britain leaves Europe’s tariff-free, regulation-light customs union, as Prime Minister Theresa May says she ultimately wants to. Thirty government departments alone would be required to change their operations, the study said.

“The problem is that everyone from port operators to small traders can only undertake limited preparation while future arrangements are so uncertain,’’ said Joe Owen, a senior researcher at the Institute.

A recent government paper proposed an interim period after Brexit during which Britain would retain a relationship with the customs union. After that, it suggested enhancing technology or smoothing tax practices to ensure a frictionless border, although the European Union would ultimately have a say in what transpires.

The U.K.’s public-spending watchdog warned in July of a “horror show” if new systems were not in place by the time of Brexit.

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