Short Straits Users Forum: helping UK companies continue to access European markets
What is the Short Straits Users Forum (SSUF)?
The SSUF is a forum created to enable companies involved in UK-EU trade to share and discuss the problems they face and obtain concrete solutions from local authorities. Ultimately, the aim is to smoothen the trade in goods, recognising that the Franco-British border ecosystem is a massive and highly complex machine, involving multiple public and private stakeholders, and several requirements which, if unmet, can lead goods to be blocked at the border for several hours or even days, thereby sharply increasing costs for traders and/or diminishing the value of these goods.
What is the purpose of the SSUF?
The SSUF was launched for a variety of purposes:
- Ease the flow of goods from the UK to the EU and vice-versa
- Allow companies to ask the questions they want answered
- Understand why and know what to do when there is a hold on companies’ goods
- Meet and speak to other UK shippers who are facing the same issues and to work on common solutions
- Develop companies’ understanding of the process on both sides of the Channel
- Anticipate every time there is a change in process or regulations
- What is required at every step of the way (exporter, driver, importer)
- Access all stakeholders involved in the process, ask questions, and prepare well before selling
Who organises the SSUF? Who are the main stakeholders?
The SSUF is an informal group, which was launched in partnership between Nord France Invest (the investment promotion agency for the Hauts-de-France regional council), Unsworth (a British customs representation company) and RM Boulanger (a French tax representation company).
The SSUF involves multiple stakeholders: any company or organisation with cross-Channel trade problems to solve is welcome to get involved in the SSUF. For example, as part of the SSUF, several delegations of companies were organised to visit Calais Port facilities and speak to local representatives from French customs and Sanitary and Phytosanitary authorities, to understand concretely how local processes worked and encourage them to adapt their trade processes in order to maximise their chances of getting their goods across the border quickly and smoothly. These trips were organised with the UK Food and Drink Federation in October and November 2021. We would welcome organising similar delegations with any British professional organisation who would find it helpful.
Which companies took part in SSUF delegations so far?
More concretely, what is the outcome of SSUF meetings and discussions?
Companies receive tailor-made answers to their questions. For example, below are the key take-aways from the SSUF delegation which visited the Port of Calais in October 2021.
- Whilst you can customs clear on import at the border of the destination EU state, Sanitary and phyto-sanitary inspections and CHED validations are always done at the first Border Inspection Post (BIP) of the EU, ie. in Calais.
- We learnt that working with a broker with their team physically based in Calais is the only way for a fast transit.
- Whoever is responsible for the BIP inspection on the import side, must appoint a customs broker in France to present the cargo and documents to SIVEP. The customs broker will take the documents from the driver and presents them to SIVEP (Service d’Inspection Vétérinaire Et Phytosanitaire, ie. the SPS check post) with a copy of the TRACES CHED; in case of physical inspection, it is the customs broker who breaks the seal in front of the SIVEP inspector and attends the inspection.
- Any other problems or queries you need to address to smoothen your trade with Europe? Feel free to get in touch with the SSUF!
How can I sign up to the SSUF?
Directly click on the link down below. It is completely free and as soon as you send your contact details, you will be part of the SSUF.