For many, navigating the post-Brexit customs landscape has been challenging. When the rules keep changing, trade associations like the Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) can be invaluable as members face uncertainty and resistance when up against new and constantly-evolving legislation.
It was late June when an FEA member dealing in refrigeration ran into some trouble. A consignment of its equipment was held in UK customs. The reason? Non-compliance. The solution? Either return the refrigeration back to its country of origin or arrange for it to be sent to a licensed waste facility for destruction. With both options as costly as they were wasteful, the member was faced with a problem and no viable solution, and to make matters worse, there would likely be daily holding charges seeking help they contacted FEA.
By contacting the UK F-gas government office, FEA negotiated the partial release of the equipment. While this alone prevented additional storage costs, later the full consignment was released.
“There’s a lot still being figured out when it comes to customs and trade between the EU and the UK right now,” says Keith Warren, chief executive of FEA. “Communication is of course vital, and this case perfectly illustrates how members can reach out to us for help. They aren’t alone in this, and nor are we.”
As a trade association operating within the UK, FEA works closely with its European counterpart, EFCEM (the European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers). On investigation of the issue, it soon became apparent that there was misalignment between the EU and UK’s F-gas regulations in relation to the specific product type. In this instance, both the FEA and EFCEM collaborated with the UK F-gas office to ensure the regulations were realigned.
“While custom disputes have become perhaps more common post-Brexit, when problems like this occur, by working together, solutions can and will be found,” says Mr Warren. “FEA is thankful to the EFCEM and the UK F-gas office for helping us solve this particular issue for our member.
“While this particular instance has a happy ending, there is still work to be done. This case is not in isolation, and more may follow. Perhaps now more so than ever manufacturers and distributors within the hospitality sector will look to the support from associations like the FEA.
“This case highlights how valuable the work of trade associations can be and the support we can offer our members during difficult and potentially costly situations.”
The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes. For more information on FEA visit www.fea.org.uk
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