Business, Forwarding, Freight News, Logistics

Don’t panic?

[ August 24, 2018   //   ]

The Government published a series of technical notices’ advising what steps would be taken in the event of a so-called ‘No deal’ Brexit next March – apparently a move to reassure business that it had matters in hand, though having the opposite effect on many people.

The papers, which covered a number of specific sectors including pharamceuticals and foodstuffs, advised businesses that anyone importing goods into the UK from the EU, or exporting goods to the EU from the UK, will have to comply with customs procedures, including potentially paying duty.

It explained that importers (or their agents) would need to use the Customs Tariff to correctly classify goods, along with country of origin.

The papers also suggested that some medicines could be stockpiled in the event of supply chain problems, although it drew the line at deploying the army to ensure food supplies were maintained.

BIFA director general Robert Keen said however that some of the information in the papers as “rather patronising” given that most current trade between the UK and UK is managed by forwarders and logistics professionals who would already be well aware of customs procedures and what they involved.

He added: “What BIFA members actually need is clarity on the arrangements that will be in place in the event of a no deal scenario.

“How will we deal with a massive increase in the customs entries that will be required in the event of a no deal; where will we source the huge number of extra staff that may be required to process such a large increase in entries on a new and as yet unproven computer system; where will HMRC source the extra staff that will be needed to process entries and expedite their training which would normally take up to one year, how do we deal with large increase in costs that our customers are unlikely to be expecting and might be unwilling to accept?

“These are just a few of the additional questions that today’s Government statement, which suggests that in a ‘no deal’ scenario full-blown customs controls will apply to two-way trade between the EU and the UK immediately, do not answer.

“BIFA has already been vocal on our concerns about the capacity and readiness of UK customs systems and port infrastructure to cope with that outcome.”

Chairman of Nottingham-based forwarder Baxter Freight, Ian Baxter, meanwhile said: “No deal is simply not an option for British businesses. Instead, we hope that the government comes to a sensible arrangement with a sensible transition period. This is still the priority for the government and that should continue along the lines of the Chequers Plan. Failure to reach an agreement is bound to inflict serious harm on our economy.”

He said that in the event of a no deal outcome, businesses trading with the EU would  need to provide certificates of origin, specific tariff numbers and other supporting documents for every job. “Putting this together for every shipment will represent a big mountain for some businesses to climb in a very short space of time,” he argued.

However Baxter Freight was “not panicking” and was confident that it could help keep goods moving as fast as possible in whatever circumstances arise.

At the Freight Transport Association, European policy manager Sarah Laouadi said that while the papers provided some welcome advice on how to prepare contingency plans, more information is needed in areas such as market access for road haulage and air freight.

She commented: “No deal would be disastrous for logistics,” she said. “While preparing for every eventuality, including a no deal position, is a sound strategy, it should not be the end game which negotiators accept. There are clear problems which could face our supply chain if agreements cannot be reached including customs and border arrangements, the continuity of trade agreements and vehicle permits, as well as the continuation of business access to EU workers. Solutions for these areas are key to the continued success of British business, both at home and abroad, after 29 March 2019.”

event of a no-deal Brexit take are as reassuring as the 1980 Protect and Survive booklet, outlining how to survive a nuclear attack by sheltering under a table.

Head of Consumer Research at parcel broker ParcelHero’s David Jinks likened the papers to the 1980s government ‘Protect and survive’ booklet, which advised people to prepare for nuclear war by taking shelter under kitchen tables.





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