Brexit: EU and UK Agree New Trade and Cooperation Agreement

Russell Hughes
January 29, 2021

After months of talks, on 24 December 2020, the EU and UK were finally able to agree a new working trade agreement known as the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). The new Trade and Cooperation Agreement came into effect on 1 January 2021 and will be applied on a provisional basis until 28 February 2021 as it is still to be ratified by the EU Council and Parliament.

The EU-UK TCA concluded between the EU and the UK sets out preferential arrangements in areas such as trade in goods and services, digital trade, intellectual property, aviation and road transport, energy, fisheries, social security coordination, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, thematic cooperation and participation in Union programmes.

The good news for many businesses that trade goods cross border between the EU and UK is that the free trade agreement provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. Therefore, to obtain this preferential rate of duty, the goods traded cross border must either originate from the EU or UK. It will be important for businesses to understand these rules to ensure they are applying the correct rates of duty on goods imported.

Whilst there is now a trade agreement in place, there will still be changes in the way goods move cross border as these become imports and exports, undergoing customs procedures and requiring customs declarations. Furthermore, with Northern Ireland remaining in the EU single market and customs union, traders in Great Britain will also now have to consider new rules when selling goods to Northern Irish businesses.

The TCA also provides for mutual assistance on tax, which may have an impact on the requirement for UK companies to appoint a fiscal representative in those countries where it is required. It may take some time for any changes to be implemented by Member States, so it is recommended that UK businesses continue to meet these requirements as failure to do so can result in penalties for noncompliance.

For further information on how this may affect your business, please contact one of our VAT experts.

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Russell Hughes

At Sovos, Russell works within the Consulting team providing UK and cross-border supply advice, detailed reviews on existing and new business activities and practical solutions to clients’ businesses. Prior to joining Sovos, Russell was the VAT manager of an award-winning tax team based in a firm of Chartered Accountants in the South East of England. Having initially begun his career in audit and accounts, he specialized in VAT in 2011, where he gained significant experience in cross-border issues, imports and exports, land and property, group registrations, partial exemption, HMRC enquiries and other complex VAT transactions. From June 2015, Russell was the sole VAT specialist in his previous company, where he led the firm’s VAT compliance and consultancy projects including all day-to-day VAT queries. Russell is also a member of the VAT Practitioners Group (VPG).
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