FTA urges government not to leave EU Customs Union

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Freight Transport Association deputy CEO, James Hookham

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has urged the new government to review the decision to leave the European Union (EU) Customs Union following the 8 June General Election.

The association says 44 per cent of the UK’s exports in goods and services were transported to the EU in 2016, valued at £240 billion ($310 million), and the government must prioritise the continued success of trading arrangements now the election is concluded.

FTA deputy chief executive officer, James Hookham says UK importers and exporters are wondering what the election and Brexit means for their supply chains, saying: “After four weeks of campaigning for the General Election, vital time has been lost to prepare for the crucial Brexit negotiations.”

“It is now imperative that that the new government focuses its efforts on supporting the logistics sector to ensure that business can continue to trade efficiently with our EU customers and suppliers.”

He says leaving the customs union could mean tariffs, border checks, Customs declarations and huge amounts of bureaucracy for UK businesses trading in the EU, and the logistics organisations that deliver it for them.

Hookham says: “Negotiating a replacement trade deal that avoids these would require a strong and convincing mandate, which the Election has now put into doubt.”

“The importance of frictionless arrangements for UK trade with the EU, particularly with Ireland, means that the decision to leave the customs union should be reviewed as a matter of urgency, and other ways of achieving a positive outcome for Brexit should now be considered.”

He says: “Our members agree that the government’s aim of delivering a frictionless trade deal for British business outside of the Customs Union has now become much more difficult than before the Election.”

“We are therefore calling for a rethink of that decision, and for other options to be considered in which Brexit can be delivered whilst reducing the impact on British exporters and importers and the international logistics businesses that deliver the UK economy.”