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One of the people expressed bafflement that it’s taken so long for the government to ask for the data. It’s just 10 months until the country formally quits the European Union, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet — and indeed her Conservative Party — is still procrastinating on what kind of customs arrangements to pursue post-divorce.
The course the government decides on will determine what burden exporters face, and whether it’s still viable for them to trade with the EU and with third countries Britain now has trade agreements with as a member of the bloc.
The belated request is designed to help ministers and trade negotiators understand which sectors and companies stand to lose the most if Britain’s departure from the customs union leads to costly rules of origin, whereby exporters have to prove the proportion of the value of their products that stems from domestic production.
One question is why has it taken this long to ask. The work is highly complex, with some manufacturers using components that cross borders several times during the production process. Some will have to delve not only into their own supply chain, but into their suppliers’ as well.
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