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FTA calls for customs clarity

[ March 29, 2018   //   ]

With just one year to go to the UK’s departure from the European Union, Freight Transport Association head of European policy Pauline Bastidon is urging the government to up the pace on negotiating trading arrangements.

“Twelve months is a very short time in business terms and it is unrealistic to expect logistics companies to wait until the eleventh hour to learn what their new operational arrangements will be. Clarity on key areas is needed in the next three months, not 12.”

She said that arrangements for customs, transport or standards are still unclear, and no solutions to manage borders   so that disruptions may be avoided have been agreed yet.

She added: “The political confirmation of a transition period is a welcome relief to companies, but this needs to be set in stone sooner rather than later.  We also need to ensure that industry is provided with sufficient details early enough to be able to adapt to new arrangements in time.  A 21-month transition period is short, and we should not become complacent: urgent clarification and solutions are needed now, and not at the 11th hour, to ensure that we do not face another cliff edge in January 2021.”

FTA is also concerned about the knock-on effect of any new arrangements on smaller organisations which may be part of bigger supply chains, but which often have no direct experience of international trade beyond the EU and EFTA, and for which dedicated support may be required to explain and assist with the new trading situation.

Market access for transport also needs to be confirmed urgently, says Bastidon: “In the absence of a liberalised agreement for road transport, industry will have to rely on a very limited and constraining system of permits which would cover less than 3% of the needs.

“Urgent clarification is needed on the location of potential checks on goods, on practical customs issues – such as whether the UK will sign up to the Common Transit Convention and what the Customs classification system to be used on the UK side will be, the status of vital European logistics workers following Brexit.”

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