Brexit: Logistics industry wants progress on trade deal

While the ‘Brexit divorce deal’ agreement has been welcomed as a sign of progress by industry leaders, there is still some concern about the trade talks that are to start early next year.

Regarding Brexit, the FTA raised the importance of getting a deal done swiftly regarding the transitional arrangements.

“Today’s announcement is the first block in the wall,” said Pauline Bastidon, head of European policy at the FTA, “but there is still much work to be done and clarification required on the key issues affecting trade and logistics and on the timelines that businesses will have to work to.

“As a first step, today’s recommendation by the European Commission needs to be validated by EU-27 leaders at the December European Council next week. Negotiators will then be able to agree the details of a transitional agreement, which is now an urgent priority to give business the assurance needed to continue to operate efficiently.

“There are still many complex issues that will need to be solved when discussions on the future relationship start, to ensure that goods can continue to flow across borders, not least for transport, trade and customs. The urgency is now to provide clarity to businesses, and that’s why a transition and implementation phase is so crucial. Businesses should only have to adapt to one set of changes and should be given enough time to do so, once new arrangements and rules become clear. Two years is a very short time: it is imperative that business is given sufficient notice to adopt new practices and systems, and ensure that they are correctly staffed to keep Britain trading,” said Bastidon.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We hope that the successful outcome of these particular border issues can be reflected in negotiations over cross-border traffic between other EU member states. However, our big concern is that we can strike a deal for free-flowing lorry traffic across the Channel.”

Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association said:

”The most pressing concern for our members has been the matter of the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU, especially Customs procedures post-Brexit.

“The Phase 2 negotiations need to remove the uncertainty that is currently faced by a large number of traders over the matter of future Customs declarations once the UK leaves the European Union.

“We look forward to further clarity about what the UK’s objectives are for that new relationship as well as a firm commitment on transition in the very near future.”

CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie said: “It’s now time to focus on the true prize of a new relationship and a deal that starts from 40 years of economic integration. With the same willpower shown today and jobs and living standards at the heart of every negotiating objective, these talks can set the UK up for the next 40 years of close alignment.

“There are two things that are top of the list. First is the final step for those EU citizens working here, and U.K. citizens abroad. It must be unequivocal that they are welcome, whatever the final deal. This cannot be their second Christmas where their rights are dependent on negotiations. Next is transition. Concrete assurances will build confidence and help firms across the U.K. and Europe to pause their contingency planning.”
 
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