The UK has signed up to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). First established in 2018 the CPTPP is a trading group which comprises 11 countries including Australia, Japan, Canada , Vietnam and Malaysia. The UK is the first non-founding member to join. Whilst the UK already has trading agreements with the majority of the countries within the CPTPP, which allows for relief on customs tariffs when importing goods which originate in those countries, the UK will now have similar benefits when trading with Malaysia, a country with whom the UK currently does not have a trade agreement.

The key to taking advantage of being a CPTPP member and indeed any trading agreement, is implementing the rules of origin correctly so that duties are not paid or are correct applied at a lower rate than otherwise would be the case. For businesses importing goods which qualify as having their origin in a CPTPP member country or any other country which the UK has a trade agreement with, it is crucially important that this qualification is determined and instructions are given to the appointed customs agent, so that the appropriate preferential origin code is entered as part of the import declaration. If this process is not followed correctly, businesses will be unnecessarily paying customs duties on the importation of goods which should be tariff free or subject to a lower rate. Customs duties are costs of trading and impact profitability, and competitiveness.

Since Brexit in particular, UK business may well have been overpaying duties when importing goods from the EU because the preferential origin rules have not always been applied correctly. Businesses are encouraged to review their customs duty costs particularly since 1 January 2021, and assess the extent to which duties may have been overpaid on imports from countries with whom the UK has a trade agreement. Claims for overpaid duties can be lodged with HMRC.