Review plan to quit EU Customs Union, urges FTA

The FTA called for the government to rethink pulling out of the EU Customs Union

The government should review its decision to leave the EU Customs Union, urged the Freight Transport Association (FTA), after the confusion caused by last week’s general election.

Speaking on Friday (June 9), FTA’s deputy ceo James Hookham said: “This morning, UK exporters and importers are waking thinking what does the election result mean for Brexit, and the potential impact on my supply chains.

“Exiting the Customs Union threatens the imposition of tariffs, border checks, customs declarations and huge amounts of bureaucracy for the significant number of UK businesses that trade in the EU – and the logistics organisations that deliver it for them.”

Negotiating a replacement trade deal that avoided those hurdles required a strong and convincing mandate, said Hookham, which the Election had put into doubt.

Weeks of campaigning for the general election had also meant vital time had been lost to prepare for crucial Brexit negotiations, he claimed.

Frictionless arrangement for UK trade

The deputy ceo called for a frictionless arrangement for UK trade with the EU – especially with Northern Ireland, which the shares the only land border with the EU. Other ways of achieving a positive outcome for Brexit should now be considered, claimed Hookham.

“In order to ‘keep Britain trading’, exporters and importers and the international logistics sector need trading conditions which are as seamless and easy to navigate as possible. 

“The delivery of a seamless trading process between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, in particular has confounded even the best trade and legal experts, and needs to be an urgent priority for government ahead of the start of Brexit negotiations.”

Last week, about 44% of the UK’s exports in goods and services were transported to the EU, valued at £240bn out of £550bn of the country’s total exports. Food and drink exports accounted for £20.2bn, up 10.5% from the previous year.

There have been repeated calls from the food and drink industry for Prime Minister Theresa May to rethink her decision to take the UK out of the EU Single Market of 510M consumers, after last week’s indecisive election results.

Failed to provide stability

The United Kingdom Warehousing Association’s (UKWA’s) ceo Peter Ward said the election had failed to provide a “sought after level of stability” for the UK logistics sector.

“With the hugely important Brexit negotiations just around the corner, UKWA very much regrets the inconclusive outcome of the general election,” he said.

“Similar to a year ago after the referendum, we appeal to the leaders in our resolute sector to provide the calm and security needed, confident that the logistics industry will adopt its steadfast and notorious business as usual approach during this critical time.”

Meanwhile, calls for a soft Brexit – maintaining closer ties to the EU’s market of 510M customers – continue to rise after the general election, as the Institute of Directors (IoD) reveals a “dramatic drop” in business confidence since the hung parliament.

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