• BDO brings on board team of customs strategists

    Consultancy firm prepares 35,000 Belgian businesses for the digital consequences of new European customs legislation

BDO brings on board team of customs strategists

15 October 2019

Europe is digitising its customs legislation. As from 2020 already, businesses will have to adapt to a number of obligations under these new European customs rules (UCC). For over 35,000 businesses in Belgium, however, it seems that the logistics processes and even the corporate strategy will be disrupted. BDO is therefore taking a team of customs strategists under its wing. In this way, the consultancy firm helps companies to comply with all the legal obligations and, furthermore, it also looks at how the new customs laws can help them boost their operating profit.

In 2016, Europe launched a new customs legislation: the Union Customs Code or UCC for short. Specifically, the legislation modernises and digitises customs procedures: electronic customs declarations, adapted customs tariffs and new rules. The technological changes and challenges associated with this legislation have never been greater for Belgian companies in the last twenty-five years. Yet they seem barely aware of this mandatory reform. This attitude not only mortgages their entire logistics and supply chain, but also means that they are missing an opportunity to strengthen their international market position.

“Hardly any business in Belgium knows exactly how the arrival of the Union Customs Code will change the market and its own processes. What is certain is that the forced digitisation obliges the government and our businesses to invest over the next three years in order to meet the deadline of late 2020/2023. Otherwise, from one day to the next, they will no longer be able to import or export goods.”

Stefaan Amling, Partner Customs Strategy & Customs Transition Strategy at BDO Belgium


BDO customs strategists were at the basis of the new customs landscape

The digitisation of the UCC is far-reaching. It is therefore best for businesses to draw up an entire strategy for their customs activities in the coming year. To help Belgian businesses with this change process, BDO is adding a team of customs strategists to its consultancy activities. Over the past ten years, these specialists have assisted the European Commission in drafting the new legislation and have helped define the strategy of the change processes for the European Member States and businesses.

“Our team of customs strategists has worked intensively within the European Commission over the last 10 years to formalise this new legislation. So we know better than anyone what changes and what IT systems the European Commission is using to open up its data. This means that we can help Belgian businesses to turn the European customs legislation to their advantage. Consider, for example, how they might align their processes with the European standardised regulations or align their software with the databases of the Member States and the European Commission.”

Stefaan Amling

Sell products up to a quarter more cheaply thanks to smart customs strategy

The problem for Belgian companies today is that everything customs-related is fragmented within the businesses. Furthermore, many processes are still performed manually and on paper. As a consequence, businesses do not always know exactly how many euros they pay in import and export duties or how high they have to set the market price of their product in a particular country in order to make a profit. The new European customs legislation with its compulsory digitisation and new technology is an opportunity to map out everything in detail and make the right strategic decisions.

“The potential of a smart customs strategy only becomes clear when businesses see exactly how many euros are spent throughout their entire customs operations and then combine that knowledge with the opportunities that the UCC legislation offers our businesses. Practical examples indicate that, in certain situations, businesses are able to offer their products to the consumer up to 25% more cheaply - without incurring any extra costs or loss of profit themselves.”

Stefaan Amling

Today, BDO’s team of customs strategists is made up of four experts. And before the end of the year, the consultancy firm is recruiting another two experts.