The Freight Transport Association has reiterated the logistics industry’s calls for a transition period as Brexit proceeds, with the release of a comprehensive ten step paper outlining the crucial elements needed to ensure the smooth continuation of trading conditions. FTA, the UK’s largest and most active membership association in freight and logistics, which represents more than 16,000 businesses nationwide, is urging government to pay close attention to customs arrangements, to ensure that the so-called “frictionless” trading relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe can continue, to maximum benefit for both parties.
“Without a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU and a new customs agreement, businesses face a very difficult trading environment post-Brexit,” says James Hookham, FTA’s Deputy Chief Executive, “which will add time and cost to the transportation of goods and services between the UK and EU countries. Making customs declarations at borders requires time, as well as space for the vehicles concerned, and these are considerations which cannot be solved overnight. The UK government and EU negotiating team owe it to businesses on both sides of the Channel to find solutions now, before trade in the UK and on the mainland grinds to a halt at the side of the road.”
The call comes as the Freight Transport Association of Ireland and the FTA co-ordinated a pan-European delegation of logistics bodies which met with representatives of Michel Barnier’s Brexit task force in Brussels, to talk through the logistics industry’s key concerns over a potential “no deal” Brexit.
“Trade is not something that can simply sort itself out at the last minute,” explains Mr Hookham, “and the physical solutions to customs inspections and tariffs will take time to work through. Our meeting today stressed on Mr Barnier’s team the importance for both sides of continuing the free-flowing movement of goods across the borders, and urged both sides at the negotiating table to take steps to consider trading requirements now, rather than waiting until the last minute to decide solutions.
“If trade is left until the last minute in negotiation terms, the prospect of shelf shortages and large queues at ports and airports is a very real one. The UK and European logistics industries are desperate to avoid this situation at all costs, and urged Mr Barnier’s task force to give trade a renewed priority in negotiations: we are here and ready to provide whatever assistance is required.”
The Prime Minister signalled in January 2017 that the UK intends to withdraw from the EU’s single market and customs union on departure from the European Union, seeking instead a comprehensive Free Trade agreement with the EU and a new customs agreement. The FTA’s new report, “Ten Ways to Make Customs Borders Work after Brexit” provides practical, achievable suggestions for steps that government and industry can take to reduce delays at UK – EU borders.