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Customs union is not enough, says FTA

[ April 26, 2018   //   ]

With the House of Commons debating a motion on customs and borders on 26 April, The Freight Transport Association is warning that a customs union with the EU would not in itself remove the need for checks at the borders or deliver frictionless trade.

FTA’s deputy chief executive James Hookham commented: “Leaving the Customs Union is only one part of the story, and a customs union on its own would not remove the need for checks at the borders or provide frictionless trade for businesses. Ending all the single market arrangements could cause even bigger delays and barriers to trade.  Leaving the single market would mean new checks on food safety or product conformity needing to be made at the EU border, unless less intrusive arrangements can be negotiated and implemented in time.”

He added that if the Government insisted on leaving the customs union, “then it must prioritise sorting out the potential ‘showstoppers’ that will kick in on Day One of Brexit.”

FTA says that while leaving the customs union will lengthen border checks, leaving the European single market could have an even greater impact on trade, with border controls and regulatory barriers being forced on importers and exporters.

Hookham added that while the political agreement for a transition period has been welcomed by the industry, “21 months is an incredibly short amount of and urgent action is needed so that trade can continue to flow seamlessly between the UK and the EU as of 2021.”

Chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group, Tim Morris, added that the main priority now should be getting more clarity on the requirements and timing of practical arrangements. “Ports operators have proved time and again that they can adapt successfully to major change – but to do so they need clarity on what changes are needed, pragmatism around the period of change and safeguards on any negative impacts on investment and competitiveness.”

The Transport Select Committee has meanwhile launched an inquiry into preparations for Brexit within the freight industry. Morris said: “The UK Major Ports Group looks forward to contributing to the Transport Select Committee’ inquiry into preparations for Brexit within the freight industry. With UK Major Ports Group members already successfully handling huge quantities of non-EU trade there are useful ‘lessons learnt’ to share, plus on what’s necessary to make Brexit changes a success. It’s important as well not to lose sight of the opportunities of Brexit for sectors like ports. The fact that boosting the UK’s trade with the world is now high on the agenda is great news not just for ports but many sectors of the UK economy…Brexit is an opportunity to create the right pro-investment policy framework for the UK situation.”


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