Firms fearful of a Brexit cliff edge

Post-Brexit challenges awaiting logistics and freight companies were discussed in much detail during an annual “Keep Britain Trading” conference organised by FTA this month.

The participants of the conference raised many concerns regarding the way that shipping industry will work post Brexit.

British Port Asscosiation (BPA) chief executive Richard Ballantyne said the number one concern of his organisation’s UK port members was in the area of facilitation, for example relating to increased border checks which will in turn increase costs and cause delays. He was also worried about possible border check complications in Ireland.

Richard Curie, Director of Public Affairs at UPS emphasised that in the absence of free movement of goods, simplified customs will be essential. Maintaining connectivity and maintaing the ECMT permit system for HGVs are priorities in his opinion.

Kevin Lucas, Supply Chain Operations director for Neovia Logistics, whose clients include Jaguar Land Rover stated that the logistics sector remained highly reliant on EU citizens, particularly in warehouses and road freight drivers. He emphasised that there was already a shortage and with a potential exodus of people it would be very hard to fill in the jobs. Certainty and clarity of employment are essential in his view. He also stressed that if UK will have a different tariff framework than EU, then rules of origin will become increasingly important and so will the standard operating procedures to keep track of all the origins of ever component within products.

Terry Murphy, Director for National Distribution Operations at John Lewis expressed his concern about future implications on online sales and fulfilment. Many goods are sold to France, Germany, Canada and other countries and they have to get there fast. There is also a percentage of returns.

David Jones MP, Minister of State at the Department for exiting the EU addressed participants’ concerns about a possible “Brexit cliff edge”. He assured that there would be an implementation period post Brexit to allow adjustments to the new regime. But he was less clear about the possibility of a “transitional agreement” – an extended period of time after the UK’s initial two-year exit negotiations, in which to negotiate an EU-UK trade deal.

 

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