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12.06.17

Freight leaders urge government to review decision to leave EU customs union

Freight leaders have today urged the new government to review its decision to leave the EU customs union following the uncertainty following the general election last week.

Though the Conservatives won the most seats of any party, it failed to retain its majority, and today the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has urged the government to get back to work moving Brexit forward and establishing a good trade deal for the UK outside the EU.

A statement from the FTA also said it was “imperative” for governmental efforts to be focused on supporting the logistics sector so that business can continue to trade efficiently with EU customers and suppliers.

“This morning, UK exporters and importers are waking thinking what does the election result mean for Brexit, and the potential impact on their supply chains,” said James Hookham, FTA’s deputy chief executive.

“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.”

The FTA official also emphasised that negotiating a replacement trade deal that bypasses these problems is something that requires a strong and convincing mandate, which the prime minister no longer has. 

“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,” Hookman stated.

He went on to say that approximately 44% of the UK’s exports in goods and services were transported to the EU in 2016, valued at £240bn out of £550bn of the country’s total exports, highlighting the importance of the customs union to the British economy.

“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,” Hookman continued. “The decision to leave the EU customs union was always going to make this tough to deliver, and without a strong and convincing mandate, the government will find fulfilling its promise to do so almost impossible.”

 

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