Forwarders bemoan lack of infrastructure detail in Queen's speech

21 / 06 / 2017

UK forwarder association BIFA said it was disappointed that the Queen's speech, which outlines UK government plans for next couple of years, lacked any mention of pre-election pledges to invest in transport infrastructure.

BIFA said it was no surprise that the speech, which took place earlier today, was dominated by bills related to the UK's withdrawal from the European Union and also that many of the plans outlined in the Conservative party's election manifesto did not make an appearance.

"It is very disappointing that the Conservatives’ pre-election pledge to invest £40bn in transport infrastructure improvements, and expand UK aviation capacity [through the addition of a new runway at Heathrow], appears to have been overlooked," said BIFA director general Robert Keen.

“We are left to assume that the procrastination on these matters, which are central to the activities of BIFA members that manage the movement of goods within domestic and international supply chains, is likely to continue."

Keen added that while there were eight bills tackling Brexit, any details on whether the UK would try to negotiate hard or soft deal was absent.

“The Customs Bill appears to include legislation that is designed to help the UK develop a standalone UK Customs regime post Brexit, which could mean difficulties for any of our members’ clients that were hoping to see legislation that would limit changes to the current situation where imports and exports within the EU are tariff free.

“Now we look forward to seeing greater details on how the Trade Bill will introduce a legal framework for Britain to agree free trade deals with countries and trading blocs around the world.”

Meanwhile, e-commerce logistics firm Fastlane International found some good news for importers and exporters, although it also said there was a lack of detail on how the government would approach its exit from the European Union.

Fastlane head of consumer research David Jinks said: "The Customs Bill will contain legislation to ensure the UK has a stand-alone UK Customs regime on exit: not entirely good news for exporters and logistics companies hoping to see few significant changes to current tariff free exports and imports.

"However, the stated flexibility to accommodate future trade agreements with the EU and others does perhaps pave the way for a softer Brexit, including the opportunity to retain tariff free borders.

"Additionally, the Trade Bill will introduce a legal framework for Britain to agree free trade deals with countries and trading blocs around the world.

"It is to be hoped this includes opportunities for deals with Nafta - the group made up of Canada, Mexico and the US – and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deal which was due to be implemented between 12 countries, including Australia and Japan, until Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement."

Jinks added that it was good news the UK government would push ahead with the HS2 rail link between Birmingham and Crew as this would free capacity on existing lines for freight trains.