EEF warns government to ‘stop wasting time on MaxFac option’
29 May 2018
Manufacturers’ organisation the EEF has derided the so-called ‘MaxFac’ customs option being considered by the Government as “naïve” and “unrealistic”.
In a letter to business secretary Greg Clark, EEF chief executive Stephen Phipson, said that MaxFac – or maximum facilitation – had proven to be inefficient and costly. Government should stop wasting time examining the option, he warned.
Prompted by concerns particularly over the border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, MaxFac would involve separate EU and British customs areas but use technology to ensure border costs and processing times were kept to a minimum.
However, Phipson, who returned recently from a visit to North America to observe the use of technology to monitor the US-Canadian border, said it had failed to have a substantial impact.
It may have some long term benefits, but suggesting MaxFac is a solution to our immediate problems is a non-starter
Stephen Phipson, chief executive, EEF
Despite a decade of cooperation, only 100 trusted Canadian companies had been able to make use of the fast track option, with the majority of goods subject to the usual customs check, he said: “Much of the debate on MaxFac is misguided. No one doubts the technology exists: it is in place in many locations around the world. The issue is whether it is good enough to provide a frictionless border and can be implemented quickly enough to be ready for December 2020.
“I think that the answer to this is an overwhelming no. It may have some long term benefits, but suggesting MaxFac is a solution to our immediate problems is a non-starter.”
Applying the Canadian system to the UK would have “horrendous” consequences, warned the EEF in its letter.
“UK manufacturers operate highly complex integrated supply chains with Europe, which rely on ‘just in time’ delivery. If we had to put every lorry through even a modest customs check the tailbacks would stretch from Dover to London and Calais to Paris,” stated the EEF chief.