The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the announcement of a Brexit transitional period ending in December 2020 but warns that there is still uncertainty over the details.
The association’s deputy chief executive officer, James Hookham says though this is positive news, a huge amount of technical agreement is still required to ensure that trade can continue to move between the UK and the European Union with minimal delays, and if not then there will be major disruption to supply chains at the end of the transition period.
He says: “By ratifying the transitional period to run over the next 20 months, negotiators will be granting business a welcome breathing space in which to formulate plans and learn new processes for trade after December 2020.
“However, this timescale and its detail is still to be formally ratified by both sides, and with the inherent risk of a ‘no deal’ outcome at the end of negotiations, business should be wary of complacency and plan accordingly.”
The FTA represents more than 17,000 businesses moving goods and services across the UK, Europe and globally, and is asking for clarification on the processes that will enable trade to continue to move smoothly.
Hookham adds: “We seem to be getting more time to agree the new border procedures and there is some confidence that UK employers will be able to continue to employ EU nationals up until the end of the transition and beyond, as long as those are permanent residents in the UK or frontier workers.
“But business still needs to know what customs and trade procedures look like after the transition period: the customs duties and taxes, the formalities required in the UK and the arrangements for border inspections of goods, the number of trucks that will be allowed to cross the border and the arrangements for the recognition of drivers’ licences and qualifications.”
He adds that the clarifications are a good start but there is still a long way to go to achieve low friction trade.
“The transition period is welcome but it still leaves a lot for government and industry to achieve in an incredibly short space of time.”