The beginning of the year was not favorable for the British economy, which was hit simultaneously by coronavirus restrictions and the UK’s exit from the European Union.
In April of this year, the UK faced the largest economic downturn in the last 20 years. This was openly reported by Jonathan Atou, a specialist in economic statistics from the National Statistical Office. How will the government restore the severely weakened economy? How will the current situation affect tourism and transport?
On July 4, 2020, the UK government, moved to the next stage of lifting restrictions and allowed the reopening of some hotel and entertainment facilities. The loosened quarantine measures have primarily related to the opening of pubs and bars, hotels, and other types of accommodation.
From July 10, the British can also travel freely to countries with low infection levels. On Friday, July 3, the Prime Minister announced the list of countries with which the United Kingdom has created "air bridges." Thus, after returning from vacation, residents of the UK will not be subjected to compulsory quarantine, which had been imposed in early June. According to the British newspaper “The Guardian”, the list includes 27 European countries, 32 states outside Europe, and 14 British overseas territories. The list does not include the United States, South America, Africa, or most Asian countries. From Europe, Sweden, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania do not appear on the list yet.
Less than six months remain before the end of the transition period in relations between the UK and the EU. In addition to the tasks of strengthening the tourism sector weakened after the pandemic, the government is focusing on issues related to border control of cargo flows from the European Union.
“Starting from the new year, full border controls are planned for goods imported from the EU. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK will not extend the transitional period established in accordance with the agreement on secession from the Union. This means that the deadline will end on December 31, 2020, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.
At the same time, the British government determined that only the phased introduction of border controls can save the economy, even without the burden of coronavirus consequences. Both entrepreneurs and the logistics industry have asked to resolve this issue,” says Malgorzata Matwiejuk, Head of the Koroszczyn Unit at AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG.
The terms for future cooperation between the British Isles and the European Union are now being discussed. Great Britain intends to conclude a free trade agreement. The terms agreed during the negotiations will be known at the end of the year. Michael Gove, head of Boris Johnson’s government, said the state would not be able to cope with the introduction of full border controls while fighting the coronavirus at the same time. Therefore, the UK decided to gradually introduce customs procedures.
“Border controls will be introduced in 3 stages:
- From January 1, 2021, cigarettes and alcohol will be subject to control. For goods such as clothing or electronics, basic customs procedures are envisaged.
- From April 1, 2021, the import of animal and vegetable products will require prior notification of the customs authorities and the provision of veterinary documents.
- From July 1, 2021, a full-fledged border control system will be put into effect. Customs declarations will need to be prepared using appropriate tariff rates. It will also be necessary to file safety declarations in international freight transport.
An additional convenience when importing goods is the possibility to pay customs duties later. Britiain will be outside the EU Customs Union and single market, and the government is taking measures to ensure that the British economy feels the transition to a "new reality" as lightly as possible,” says Malgorzata Matwiejuk.