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Freight industry still in the dark over Brexit, warns FTA

[ January 20, 2020   //   ]

The Freight Transport Association is calling on the government to answer questions about the UK’s future trading arrangements with the EU after the Brexit transition period.  following comments from the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, suggesting a hardening in the government’s approach to Brexit, and his suggestion that industry has had more than enough time to prepare.

Director of policy Elizabeth de Jong, said: “Whilst the logistics industry welcomes the clarity in direction that the new government brings, it is not helpful to tell businesses they have already had three years to prepare. The most important question is: prepare for what exactly? There are a number of critical questions about the way goods will move across borders between the UK and the EU, and importantly the different arrangements that will need to be put in place between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is just not possible for logistics businesses to prepare adequately without these critical operational details.”

FTA says that government policy until very recently has focussed on making trading arrangements as frictionless as possible with Prime Minister, Boris Johnson talking about negotiating a favourable trade deal, implying soft borders at the end of the transition period.

Ms de Jong continues: “Whilst there is still time for industry to prepare for increased levels of friction at borders, it is essential that the logistics sector is fully involved in the early design and testing of new procedures. As always, FTA is ready and willing to help, but the detail is really important; we need months not minutes to get ready for the changes.”

FTA has already been in contact with the new administration with a list of vital questions so that the planning and testing can begin, as well as critical recommendations for 2020. These include the exact processes and types of formalities required for goods moving across the borders, along with the new systems, accreditations and training needed.

Ms de Jong said: “Knowing there will be customs formalities and regulatory divergence is not enough: FTA members need to know exactly what this will mean and how new requirements will be enforced, particularly on the UK side. They need to know what simplifications, accreditation schemes and trade facilitation measures the UK government envisages, if any, and whether standards, qualifications and accreditations will be recognised. FTA members also need clarity on the new arrangements for transport. As of today, there has been no response or clarification on the detail behind these critical issues.”

She concluded: “Without time for effective planning and testing, delays at the border and other interruptions to the supply chain are very likely to have a critical impact on the availability of time-sensitive goods, such as fresh food and medicines, and a knock on effect on the productivity and profitability of UK PLC. Mr Javid also acknowledged at the weekend that businesses ‘didn’t know the exact terms’ under which they would be required to operate. Some of that detail is fundamental to making Brexit a success, and we look forward to supporting the government as soon as possible in preparing for those specific and significant changes.”

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