Business, Forwarding, Freight News, Logistics

Forwarder condemns ‘reckless’ Brexit strategy

[ April 28, 2020   //   ]

Director of Leeds-based Tudor International Freight, Adam Johnson, has described a statement by the government that it will not seek to extend the UK’s post-Brexit transition period, despite the Covid-19 crisis, as irresponsible.

A government spokesperson has been reported as saying that the UK will not extend the transition period, arguing that it will simply prolong the negotiations, extend uncertainty and would also keep it bound by EU legislation.

Johnson said: “The government is trying to put a free trade deal with the EU in place by the transition period’s conclusion. This would avoid import taxes, or tariffs, on goods traded between the parties and eliminate the alternative of a no-deal exit, the worst possible outcome for British businesses. But a free trade agreement would still introduce significant new regulation, bureaucracy, delays and costs for British companies – already grappling with the severe damage caused by covid-19 – which could be delayed through an extension.”

However, he added: “The coronavirus crisis has now added general current economic and business carnage to this future damage.”

He also said: “Other reasons for extending include that UK and EU officials are preoccupied with covid-19, which has already caused negotiating rounds to be cancelled and is complicating the talks, as limited numbers of representatives try to overcome the difficulties of bargaining via video conferencing.

“In addition, the chances of finalising a comprehensive and considered free trade agreement by December looked slim even before the pandemic, as that timeframe implies the deal being negotiated between March and the early autumn, a huge task. This speed would be necessary to allow the agreement’s ratification by both sides and for the UK to have a realistic chance of implementing essential legal and regulatory changes by the year-end.”

Mr Johnson added that this timetable had come to seem even more daunting lately, as it was now clear – especially after the second round of talks, which ended on 24 April – that the UK and EU were far apart on several key issues.