While Westminster is no closer to a decision on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, FTA, the organisation which speaks and stands up for the logistics sector is urging politicians to reach a decision which supports the nation’s businesses or risk putting the UK’s trading platform and economy in jeopardy.
“A No Deal Brexit would be highly damaging for trade, for business and for Britain,” says James Hookham , Deputy CEO at FTA. “With no clear solution for what happens next, the risk of a No Deal has risen significantly – and the problems which this would cause of businesses, which now have virtually no time to prepare, would be catastrophic for the UK’s supply chain, on which we all rely.
“Mrs May’s Lancaster House speech, two years ago to the day. promised that frictionless trade would be protected, whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU: this promise has not materialised. A No Deal would increase delays at the country’s borders, increase red tape and costs for logistics businesses already operating on narrow margins, restrict access for transport to the EU and reduce the available skilled workforce for logistics operators – all problematic on their own, but when viewed together, a perfect storm which could cause untold damage to businesses and individuals right across the country, not just those trading directly with the EU.”
Logistics is a sector at the heart of the UK’s economy: companies directly involved in or highly dependent on logistics, like retail and manufacturing, make up 22% of all UK companies and employ a third of the UK’s workforce. And, as Hookham continues, while it is known as an agile and flexible sector, time is now running out for logistics to make the necessary preparations for a No Deal Brexit:
“As a sector, logistics has been asking government for clarification on key trading areas for the past two years without success. Issues such as how customs declarations are to be made and tariffs collected, the access rights for trailers and UK personnel, and how access is to be granted for vehicles may seem incidental to some, but actually have a huge impact on the way that goods and services are able to flow freely between the UK and its biggest trading partner. Logistics must not and will not be held up as the “whipping boy” for politicians who have failed to take into account the complexity of the supply chain over the past two years. Operators of all sizes are always prepared to go the extra mile to deliver for customers, but without knowing the parameters of the market in which they are and will be working, planning has been almost impossible.
“A no deal Brexit would leave logistics operators facing increased red tape, restrictions to access and to skilled staff, increased delays and rising costs and puts the livelihoods of the hardworking Britons involved in the movement of freight at risk. No one voted for that, and FTA is urging the government once again to reach an agreement with the EU which can keep goods and services flowing with minimal or no hindrance – that is what was promised two years ago, and that is what the industry expects.”
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Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.