Monday, May 21, 2018

An Open Irish-UK Border is Paramount to Freight Transport and Road Haulage Interests

Logistics Representatives Meet Politicians to Discuss Brexit Options
Shipping News Feature
IRELAND – UK – The Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) and its opposite number in the UK, the FTA, may be distinctly separate entities, representing as they do exclusively each of their members individual interests, but on one subject there is certainly total unanimity – the subject of Brexit, and how the EU and the UK both need to negotiate a position to ensure the free flow of cargo between the two countries.

The FTAI listed three priorities including ten recommendations to ensure a smooth Brexit, with the overriding point of importance – the priority of ensuring there will be no hard border with Northern Ireland. The FTAI says this means avoidance of checks at the border with no tariffs or quotas. To ensure seamless transport links there must be protection of access to the UK market for Irish road haulage operators with mutually recognised standards, documents, licences and the like.

The FTAI published a position paper outlining its stance, plus a briefing note and now the FTA has been pushing home similar points to the British government during a meeting with politicians at Stormont over the weekend. Talking to Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Business Greg Clark MP and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley MP, FTA's Northern Ireland policy manager Seamus Leheny stressed the importance of free flowing trade. He commented after the meeting:

"Logistics operators are clear that the Irish border must remain frictionless after Brexit, to ensure that trading relationships are protected and business can continue to flourish. This weekend's meeting gave us the chance to share the concerns of the freight and logistics sector with ministers, who were open to possible solutions which would protect the integrity of Ireland's businesses, as well as its borders. The Irish border situation is complicated, with physical and political constraints that need careful consideration before a workable solution can be found.

"The conversations we had this weekend were a welcome opportunity to raise the concerns of the logistics industry directly with those at the negotiating table in Brussels, particularly the need to avoid infrastructure at the border, and the fact that technology at the border on vehicles will not be a workable solution. Clarity over the rules of origin for goods is vital, and despite the fact that compliance for the north-south trading route will be difficult to administer, I am confident that our message - that Ireland needs to remain open for business, with no delays at its borders - will be carried into the next round of talks with the EU."

During this weekend's visit, the MPs discussed their proposed ‘maximum facilitation’ solution to the Irish border with Mr Leheny and other business representatives and considered ways in which the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK could be upheld, while reinforcing commitments made to the people of Northern Ireland.