FTA, the business organisation which speaks for the logistics industry, welcomes the new clarity and direction that the General Election result provides to business in terms of Brexit planning. However, FTA is warning that, without the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, there is still the risk of a No Deal departure from the EU on 31 January 2020 – which could bring chaos to the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain, and the industry which relies upon it.
Assuming Prime Minister Boris Johnson follows through on his commitment that he will “get Brexit done” and achieves ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by Parliament,Pauline Bastidon , FTA’s Head of Global and European Policy, is keen that the focus for government should then shift to details of the future trading arrangements between the UK and EU:
“What logistics and supply chain managers need above all is clarity over the Brexit’s end game. While the short-term priority is to ensure that the UK leaves with a ratified withdrawal agreement, we need answers to the big questions about our future trading arrangements with Europe. Most of the crucial topics related to trade and transport have yet to be negotiated with the EU, in what will be a very short amount of time. Entering these negotiations with a clear picture of what logistics needs will be critical to its success. Minimising frictions, red tape and costs should be at the heart of the negotiations if UK PLC is to continue trading effectively,”
According to FTA, the three priorities still concerning businesses across the sector which is responsible for keeping Britain’s industry and consumers stocked with the products they need are:
· Final confirmation of the arrangements for imports and exports between the UK and Europe need to be agreed – business needs to know what the processes required will be and have time to learn and implement them.
· Agreement on the situation on the Northern Ireland border, including the potential for checks and where and how these are to be made
· The ongoing situation regarding the employment of EU nationals within a sector that relies on them for vital labour – with more than 53,000 lorry driver vacancies already in the UK, and more in warehousing, van driving and other key roles across the sector, the loss of the 343,000 EU nationals working in British logistics firms could see vehicle movements and the supply chain as a whole come to a standstill.
“Our members are agile and know how to adapt to changing circumstances and new risks and opportunities, but to do so, they will need sufficient advanced notice of the changes that are to come. Ensuring they are involved every step of the way, from the definition of the negotiating mandate to implementation of new rules is the best way of ensuring that the new trade and transport arrangements will work in practice and allow logistics to Keep Britain Trading. As the voice of logistics, we stand ready to do just this”.
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.
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