Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of current practice by French customs authorities requiring (a) UK Export Declaration documentation to be terminated on arrival of UK goods at their point of entry into France and (b) fresh Transit documentation to be initiated at that point of entry in order for UK goods to proceed through France to other destinations within the EU; for what reason goods imported from the EU to the UK require only EU Export Declaration documentation to proceed through the UK; how many EU countries apply this asymmetric arrangement to their trade with the UK; what estimate she has made of the competitive disadvantage to UK exporters of having to pay additional charges both to (i) obtain and (ii) terminate the extra documentation required for transiting through France to another EU destination; and for what reason that additional paperwork is required for the high proportion of UK exports to EU countries which are zero-tariff rated. 
[Due for Answer on 20 January.]
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman): Customs formalities apply on both sides of the UK-EU border. This involves an export declaration in the country of dispatch and an import declaration in the country of destination. UK import controls are similar to those of the EU. However, recognising the impact of COVID-19 on businesses’ ability to prepare and following the announcement in February 2020 that the Government will implement full border controls on imports coming into GB from the EU, the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce new border controls in stages up until 1 July 2021. Until 30 June 2021 traders (or their intermediaries) can import non-controlled goods from the EU by making a declaration in their own records at the point the goods enter GB followed by a delayed supplementary declaration.
The Government also successfully negotiated the UK’s accession to the Convention on Common Transit. This procedure can facilitate border crossings and defer payment of import duties while the goods travel under it throughout the Common Transit Area. Goods moving under a transit declaration do not need to undertake import and export procedures at every border. Instead the goods are exported once in the country of dispatch before being declared into transit. The goods may then cross over multiple customs territories before arriving at their final destination. The goods then will only need to be imported once they reach their final destination. The transit procedure is not mandatory but may be particularly helpful if the goods are for an EU country other than the one in control of the border where they arrive.