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Business groups give Brexit deal cautious welcome – updated

[ December 24, 2020   //   ]

Logistics UK said it felt optimistic about the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) finally thrashed out between the UK and EU on 24 December but cautioned that there is still much to be done to protect the nation’s supply chains, and the economy as a whole.
Policy director Elizabeth de Jong said: “A deal is great news for the UK economy, since it removes the risk of tariffs being placed on almost every item imported from the EU, which would have raised prices and slowed the rate of economic growth. We are still absorbing all the details, but it looks as though HGVs will continue to have access to the EU market, and aircraft will still be permitted to fly to and from the EU, which safeguards the UK’s highly interconnected supply chains and protects the jobs of those charged with keeping the country stocked with the goods it needs.
“Meanwhile, Logistics UK is urging traders to continue to get ready for new trading conditions as they were before, as the new trading relationship will still require many of the same preparations, not least the introduction of customs declarations and additional checks on food and livestock. Logistics UK is advising traders not leave paperwork to the last minute, or ignore it, as this will cause delays to journeys.”
Eurotunnel said it was delighted to welcome the new partnership, which ends a long period of uncertainty, and will benefit both businesses and travellers alike. Although the agreement has been reached only one week before the end of the Transition period, during which European Union law has continued to apply in the United Kingdom, this agreement will be applied by Eurotunnel from 1 January.
The British Ports Association also welcomed the continued tariff free trade but said that there would still be a major impact from at the end of the transition period. Chief executive Richard Ballantyne said: “The prospect of continued tariff free trade with the EU and other market access arrangements is certainly something most in the freight and logistics industries will welcome. It looks as if our agricultural and automotive trade with the EU can continue without being subject to the high tariffs that could have been introduced. It also means that the fish we land will be able to exported its biggest market.
“However despite this deal the UK is definitely leaving the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market which means major changes for cross border trade. Goods being transported between Great Britain and the EU, including Northern Ireland, will be subject to a number of new controls and requirements and there is no escaping the increase in costs that this will create for UK traders, businesses and potentially consumers. As our new trading relationship starts to bed down we are hopeful that an ongoing reciprocal acceptance of each other’s standards might mean a reduced need for inspections and interventions at ports and borders.”
General manager at FTA Ireland (FTAI) Aidan Flynn said the free trade agreement was welcome news for the Irish logistics industry as it provided much-needed certainty. But while there will be no quotas and tariffs on goods, changes are coming on 1 January 2021 and all in the freight distribution and logistics sector must continue to prepare for these new trading requirements to support smooth trade flows.
He added: “The new administrative burdens will make transiting through Great Britain more onerous for Irish hauliers and as we have seen in recent days with limited space at ports, any delays will cause serious congestion for hauliers.”

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