The UK government continues to recognise the vital role that the transport & logistics sector is playing in helping the country deal with the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. HM Revenue & Customs has announced new support available to businesses importing goods, with deferment of duties and VAT payments now available to businesses which can demonstrate they are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus.
Crucially, such firms will not be required to call on their deferment guarantee subject to approval from HMRC. To apply for an extension, holders of Duty Deferment Accounts should contact the Duty Deferment Office by phone on 03000 594 243 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a non-account holder, please contact the Customs Debt Policy at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of London’s office has announced that Transport for London is delaying the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Direct Vision Standards in recognition of the importance of logistics to vital supply chains in the capital. While both schemes had been scheduled to come into effect in October this year, they have now been put back to February 2021 to give businesses more time to prepare.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) continues to provide much-needed support to the industry and is now offering all firms – members and non-members alike – a mobile inspection service to help keep vehicle downtime to an absolute minimum. This service is particularly designed to help operators who have had to close their own workshops, or have lost access to their usual service partners, due to social distancing rules. For more details, visit the FTA website here.
Challenges for international supply chains
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and World Customs Organisation (WCO) are working together to keep businesses up to date with the changes to trading rules and requirements that have been introduced around the world in response to the pandemic.
Many countries have made temporary changes to regulatory or customs requirements in order to facilitate trade in essential goods such as food and medicine: more information can be found on the WTO and WCO websites.
One major challenge for importers is that manufactured goods and raw materials continue to come into the UK and Europe despite slowing demand. This is likely to lead to significant capacity issues for warehousing firms in the weeks ahead which could lead in turn to a broader impact on supply chains as hold-ups at ports increase.
At the same time, as the number of cancelled scheduled sailings around the world increases, a number of major global ports are starting to reach capacity as boxes remain in situ. The issue is being felt especially keenly in India: with the country in lockdown, there are simply not enough workers to unload ships and move goods at the required speed.
Santander’s UK clients should be prepared not just for growing delays in the movement of goods but also for potential increases in shipping charges. Air freight, meanwhile, continues to be the main source of income for a number of airlines – many are converting the passenger areas of their aircraft to carry small cargo boxes containing medicines or medical devices.
Larger wide-body airliners are having seating removed, converting them into full freight liners. However, capacity issues remain with air freight, and delays are to be expected. Freight rates are still very high due to rising demand and a lack of capacity: this situation is expected to continue until lockdowns around the world are eased and passenger demand starts to return.
To discuss how Santander can help your business during the coronavirus pandemic, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org