To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what changes to customs procedures will be introduced from January 1988; and what their effect will be on figures of imports and exports.
The two main elements of the changes are the introduction of the "single administrative document" for freight declaration and an extensively revised tariff and statistical classification based on a new "harmonised system" of commodity classification. The SAD is being introduced at the same time in all European community countries and the HS is expected to be adopted worldwide by most major trading countries. The SAD will reduce the administrative burden on traders; in the United Kingdom alone it will replace 27 existing forms. It is an important step in the creation of a single Community market. The HS is a more up-to-date and useful classification of goods than the present one. It is more detailed and will improve international comparisons of visible trade statistics.In the first few months of 1988, some traders may be relatively unfamiliar with the new procedures and system of classification. The visible trade statistics, which are derived from freight declaration documents, may suffer a temporary drop in quality — especially at the more detailed commodity levels. Users of visible trade statistics will, where possible, be advised if there are major effects on the figures.However, I am sure that all British exporters and their agents, and importers, will co-operate in ensuring a smooth introduction of these quite radical changes—the primary purpose of which is to facilitate trade. The Department of Trade and Industry and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise have been involved in an extensive awareness and training programme with trade associations and organisations — and will continue to help traders with questions about the impact of these changes.An article in
British Business of 27 November provides more details of the changes and their likely effects. A copy is available in the Library.