FTA says post-Brexit plans a “step in the right direction”

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The UK government’s paper on trade and customs arrangements post-Brexit which has been published today is a “step in the right direction”, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

However, the FTA has warned the ambitions laid out in the document are far from guaranteed, and will require some careful negotiation in order to ensure that British businesses are able to trade freely and easily post-Brexit.

The UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) in June 2016 and triggered Article 50 in March this year and will leave the EU in March 2019.

According to today’s government paper, the UK could ask Brussels to establish a “temporary customs union” after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

But during this period, it would also expect to be able to negotiate its own international trade deals, something which cannot be done as an EU customs union member.

Once this time expires, the government says it will hope to establish either a “highly streamlined” border with the EU or a new “partnership” with no customs border at all.

FTA deputy chief executive, James Hookham says: “The Government has recognised that it cannot drive the British economy off the cliff edge of Brexit. But to secure the best possible deal for British business will take skill and understanding of how trading relationships work, in order to obtain the buy-in of the rest of the EU27 countries, as well as the EU’s own bureaucrats.

“FTA is keen to play its part in helping to develop efficient customs procedures post-Brexit, which will keep trade flowing freely, and urges the government to include representatives of the sector, with specialist knowledge, at the negotiating table to help reach the best possible deal for Britain.”

Hookham continues: “The government’s ambitions for customs arrangements post-Brexit are, at present, just that, and it will take time and care to ensure that all the subtleties of current operations can be incorporated into future plans.

“The logistics industry has clearly identified its needs if trade is to continue in a frictionless manner with the EU and the rest of the world, and the government owes it to British trade and industry to work with us to ensure that these arrangements can be introduced as part of the final Brexit deal.”