UK forwarders want more detail on Brexit plan
28 / 06 / 2017
The British International Freight Association (Bifa) has said freight is "none the wiser" after the UK prime minister yesterday outlined the government’s plan for leaving the European Union.
Yesterday, UK prime minister Theresa May revealed that as part of exiting the European union it would also leave the single market, which allows for tariff free trade across borders, but said the UK would push for "the freest possible trade" with the EU and other countries.
The association said that the speech "delivered some clarity" but "remains short on the details that will assist members as they go about their business of managing much of the UK’s visible international trade".
May said the UK would aim to negotiate tariff free trade with the EU, arrange new trade agreements with countries outside of the EU, create a Customs agreement with the EU and maintain the common travel area between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
“Our members across the country over the last few months have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty,” said Robert Keen, director general of Bifa.
“They would have welcomed clarity on the mechanics that will underpin Mrs May’s desire for ‘tariff-free and frictionless trade’.
"The prime minister said that she wanted ‘an ambitious customs agreement with the EU’ while rejecting the Customs Union because of the common external tariff that prevents Britain from negotiating separate trade deals with third countries.
“Freight forwarding executives are none the wiser on the actual mechanics of Britain’s future trading relationships and how they might affect the freight forwarding sector.
"Will Customs reintroduce EU transaction border controls? Will the replacement for CHIEF [the Customs processing system] go ahead and will the new system be able to handle the millions of extra transactions? How will controls on dual use items be managed?
“Mrs May has made reference to maintaining the common travel arrangements between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but how will freight be managed between the two countries?
“What our members need from Government is some answers to those questions. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. And after today’s much anticipated speech, much of the real detail is missing.”
The UK’s Freight Transport Association and parcel firm Fastlane International yesterday expressed mixed feelings about May’s plans.
The FTA said May’s statement allowed the association to identify where the new ‘friction points’ in international trade could occur and work with the government to negotiate the best possible outcome for UK businesses.
Meanwhile, Fastlane warned that May’s declared aim of abandoning the EU Common External Tariff will cost UK exporters £44bn and lead to excessive delays and red tape for shipments at EU borders.