Freight News, Business

Trade calls for open mind as Brexit talks get underway – updated

[ June 19, 2017   //   ]

With the UK’s Brexit negotiations officially getting underway on 19 June, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) again called on the Government to prioritise logistics and trade.

Prime Minister Theresa May has already indicated that the UK will leave the EU without a deal if the Government cannot reach a suitable agreement within the two-year timeline, particularly on new trade arrangements. Under this scenario, businesses would face controls, checks and delays at the border with very little time to adapt to new rules and arrangements.

FTA has warned that any delays at the border – especially around major ports – and additional red tape will jeopardise freight operations, especially those handling time-sensitive and perishable goods, and are likely to add costs which will filter down to the consumer.

FTA’s head of European policy,  Pauline Bastidon, said: “The Government must not underestimate the impact of Brexit on the industry if not managed carefully. Businesses run on predictability – anything that causes uncertainty creates problems in terms of operating, costing and forward planning. Leaving the EU without a deal and an agreement on a transitional period would be the worst possible scenario.

“We need clarity at the earliest possible opportunity, together with a sensible period of transition and implementation to allow time for businesses and authorities alike to adjust to new arrangements.”

Mrs Bastidon continued: “FTA has asked the Government to keep an open mind on solutions needed for the post-Brexit period and to reconsider its position on a customs union with the EU.”

BIFA too called for a deal that keeps the UK in the European customs union. Director general, Robert Keen said that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond had reportedly dismissed speculation that the UK could pursue a soft Brexit and remain part of the EU’s customs union and the single market.
However, said Keen: “BIFA believes the economic benefits of the European Union single market, which allows free movement of goods, services, capital and people, and the customs union, which enables tariff-free trading within the EU, should be maintained until a final settlement between the UK and the EU is agreed and implemented, whenever that might be.
“In light of the confusion caused by the results of the recent General Election, and the lack of a clear mandate from the UK Electorate, Mr Hammond and others, ought to be trying to convince colleagues to review the decision to leave the EU customs union, as laid out by Theresa May in her Lancaster House speech in January.”
BIFA fears that leaving the customs union will lead to tariffs, border checks, customs declarations and bureaucracy for UK businesses trading within the EU, as well as BIFA members.
Keen concluded: “The Government needs to keep an open mind on solutions needed for the post-Brexit period, rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater by having an inflexible attitude on ongoing membership of the customs union.”