Business, Freight News

Fox plan is not cunning, says FTA

[ July 29, 2016   //   ]

The Freight Transport Association has reacted with alarm to a statement by from International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on 27 July in which he apparently called for the UK to quit the EU Customs Union as soon as possible,

FTA warned this would create huge uncertainty for its shipper members and could have massive impact on shipments of British goods into and out of the country. “Quitting the EU Customs Union before there is something else to replace it would be premature,” said deputy chief executive, James Hookham.

“The scope for border and customs officials in other member states to impose tariffs and other restrictions on British goods would be unlimited. It would be a free-for-all at the expense of British businesses. I am concerned that Liam Fox would suggest such a move at this time without offering business a viable alternative.”

The EU Customs Union ensures that goods traded between EU member states have the same level of tax and also eliminates customs clearance delays.

Hookham continued: “There is no alternative to the Customs Code right now and it will take years to negotiate something different so the Government needs to think through the impact of this move on the UK’s existing trade with EU countries.

“Over half the UK’s exports are with the EU single market so tearing up the arrangements that help ensure that goods get to customers without additional tariffs and paperwork burdens would be a huge risk to existing trade.

“We accept Brexit will eventually involve some disengagement from the existing trading arrangements with Europe but a ‘hard exit’ should not be at the cost of a hard landing for British shippers currently exporting there.”

The Government moved quickly to clarify Mr Fox’s comments, saying that saying no decision had been made on whether Britain would seek to remain in the customs union.