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Take action now to avoid trade standstill, urges Logistics UK

[ February 9, 2022   //   ]

The publication the Public Accounts Committee report, EU Exit: UK Border Post transition, shows that government needs urgently needs to focus on the nation’s borders if trade is not to grind to a halt from this summer, warns Logistics UK. There is still much to do to keep the UK trading with its closest business market, it says.

Head of European policy, Sarah Laouadi, explains that while the freight industry has made huge strides in preparing for new border and customs arrangements with the EU since the Withdrawal Agreement was signed, the imposition of new import checks this summer and introduction of new border processes could have a significant impact on the ability of UK businesses to trade effectively in the future.

She said that the new Entry/Exit System (EES) passport needs urgent attention, as it currently would require drivers to leave their vehicles and cross live traffic lanes in ports and terminals for checks. Not only would this create safety risks, but it will have a severe impact on the time it takes to cross the border and knock-on effects on traffic flows on both sides of the Channel. 

Logistics UK says that research has shown that a two-minute delay at the border could create up to 29 miles of queues. The new system could be disastrous for the UK’s highly interconnected supply chains.”

Laouadi says that the industry has made huge strides in preparing for new import checks on goods coming from the EU, despite the pressures placed on the sector by Covid-19, “but there is still much to be clarified. While government seems to be confident that all planned Border Control Posts (BCPs) will be built and staffed in time for July – albeit with interim arrangements and temporary facilities in certain cases – our main concern is the lack of detail about the type of commodities that will be accepted at each location, which is crucial for businesses to rearrange their routes and operations if necessary.”

This information should be available by now, says Logistics UK, as operational changes cannot be delivered at the last minute. Laouadi  said: “We would like the UK government to show leadership to bring together all involved parties including the operators of BCPs and deliver the information the logistics industry needs to successfully navigate the next stages of import controls.”

Most important, according to Ms Laouadi, is the move from the ‘Day one’ arrangements to the best possible border procedures. The 2025 border strategy has the potential to reduce the costs of trading, which did increase for EU imports and exports as a result of EU Exit procedures; it will equally benefit UK businesses trading with the rest of the world. The speed at which these border reforms are introduced is crucial. There is no doubt the transformations proposed by government in its Border Strategy have great potential, but we believe some of these should be delivered even before 2025. Now is the time for government to give UK importers and exporters the conditions to thrive.”

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