European customers have been rejecting goods imported from the UK after being slapped with unexpected customs charges when signing for them. UK Fashion & Textile Association chief Adam Mansell warned British retailers could be forced to abandon or burn the items due to the cost and effort involved in bringing them back to the country.
Retailers face more customs paperwork and charges upon the goods’ return to Britain.
Mr Mansell told the BBC it is “cheaper for retailers to write off the cost of the goods than dealing with it all, either abandoning or potentially burning them”.
He said: “It’s part of the ongoing small print of the deal.
“If you’re in Germany and buying goods from the UK, you as the German customer are the importer bringing goods into the EU.
“You then have a courier company knocking on the door giving you a customs clearance invoice that you need to pay to receive your goods.”
Mr Mansell said further customs paperwork for UK retailers when goods are returned includes an “export clearance charge, import charge arrival, import VAT charge and, depending on the goods, a rules of origin document as well”.
He added: “Lots of large businesses don’t have a handle on it, never mind smaller ones.”
The BBC cites figures from Statista showing about 30 percent of items bought online are returned.
“Most businesses use a specialist such as a customs broker, freight forwarder or fast parcel operator to deal with this.
“The Government will continue to work closely with businesses to ensure they are able to trade effectively under the new rules.”
New trading arrangements have been in place since the transition period ended on December 31.
The UK had continued to follow EU rules after Brexit while the two sides negotiated a deal.
Boris Johnson struck his agreement with Brussels on Christmas Eve after months of wrangling.
The deal has seen the UK leave the single market and customs union.