Britain’s Government must explain and take steps to keep the nation’s trade moving efficiently post-Brexit or face delays and shortages of the products and services the UK relies on.
That’s the stark warning from the Keep Britain Trading conference in London, organised by the Freight Transport Association.
Leigh Pomlett, the organisation’s President said, “The time for political negotiations on Brexit is fast running out, and those of us responsible for keeping Britain trading need urgent assistance and guidance from government.
“We are now in a crucial period where businesses need to make spending decisions and commit to operating plans for the period when Brexit will be a reality, but we are currently operating ‘in the dark’.
“Without knowing who we will be employing, how we will be crossing borders, what certifications and permits goods and vehicles will require in order to travel, business as we know it will be unable to continue. The logistics industry will be the first part of the economy to encounter the realities of Brexit when vehicles drive off the first ferry to arrive in Calais on 30 March 2019 and we want things to go smoothly, but we need more information about the trading conditions we are to expect once the UK leaves the EU. The time for talking is over – it’s now time to act.”
FTA, which speaks for the whole of the logistics sector and represents more than 17,000 member organisations, reiterated its call for clarification on the eight points its members need for the continuation of frictionless trade once the UK departs the European Union:
“Simply saying things will be ok is no longer enough,” he continued. “The logistics sector will be key to making Brexit work for the UK but we can no longer work blind and be left to guess what we may have to do, and when.”
In addition to the confirmation of the status of EU workers and the permits required for both vehicles and freight travelling to and from the Continent, FTA reiterated its calls for clarity on the continued mutual recognition of vocational driving licences and competency certificates, as well as the number of vehicle permits which will be available to enable vehicles to cross the Channel.
The SMMT has warned of a customs and tariff deal with EU countries after it has seen a massive hole appear in recent investments in the UK automotive car making and supply chain.
MINI has increased planned production of some models in its Netherlands plant and not Oxford to meet demand, while VW has announced it will suspend car production at some plants on selected days in August and September to cope with a slowdown in demand for some models across Europe and to meet legislation for models under the new WLTP emissions testing programme.
BMW has also said it depends on 150 truck shipments into its UK plants and 118 shipments abroad a day which will be threatened by possible delays at UK and European ports due to Customs checks.