Monday, April 30, 2018

UK Government Ask Freight and Logistics Stakeholders for Requirements from Brexit

Industry Wide Consultation to Advise on Infrastructure, Policy and Regulation
Shipping News Feature
UK – Last week saw the British government launch an inquiry to examine the potential effects of Brexit on UK freight operations and assess the preparatory steps operators, their customers and the Government need to take. The logistics sector has been quick to comment and will doubtless be putting forward some strong views before the public consultation ceases taking views on June 8.

Many operators have expressed concern in the past few months that the inability to agree trade terms with the EU is causing problems for stakeholders, but many projects are on hold awaiting a picture of how the mechanics and systems will actually perform post Brexit, and Chair of the Transport Committee responsible for the inquiry, Lilian Greenwood MP, launched the project confirming this when she said:

"We've heard a lot about custom arrangements, border controls, tariffs and trade deals. But we haven't heard enough about transport infrastructure, policy and regulation implications affecting freight operators and their customers. But from day one after Brexit, we will expect our goods to turn up and for life to continue as normal.

”While the agreement of a transitional period to December 2020 is welcome, there remains a great deal of uncertainty for UK freight operators and their customers. The implications of Brexit will vary across freight modes and types of freight. We want the sector to tell us what's worrying them. What is required to make this work?

”We want to cast our evidence-gathering new as wide as possible, then focus on areas where government and industry actions will be most pressing, to prepare for both the challenges and opportunities of Brexit."

Although UK and EU negotiators have now agreed a Brexit transitional period to run until December 2020, the pressure is on to determine just what is required, and what can be delivered in the time available, for the smooth throughput of freight in the longer term. It will now be for interested parties from across the road, rail, sea and air cargo sectors to express their individual needs post Brexit. The inquiry does not consider border and custom arrangements, trade deals or tariffs as these fall outside the Committee's remit, but looks at the steps required to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of Brexit for UK freight, particularly through investment in transport infrastructure and changes to transport policy and regulation.

The Committee says it would particularly like to receive written evidence addressing the following:

  • the scale and nature of the challenges and opportunities Brexit presents to UK freight companies and their customers
  • mode and/or sector-specific requirements for additional Government funding, or other changes to Government funding plans, particularly in relation to transport infrastructure, to support the needs of freight
  • any new arrangements needed for the licencing, regulation and training of operators and workers in the freight sector after Brexit (including the adequacy of measures set out in the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill)

One organisation to whom the inquiry is particularly relevant is the British International Freight Association (BIFA), whose membership includes all the heavy hitters in the UK’s freight forwarding industry. Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, is urging its members to participate, by provide written evidence before the June 8, 2018 deadline, saying:

“As a body that represents the companies that are responsible for the logistics that underpins the UK’s visible trade, BIFA has been very vocal on the many issues arising from Brexit that affect the work of our members.

“The Transport Committee inquiry is offering freight operators and their diverse customers, the opportunity to specify their needs in regards to transport infrastructure. Though the terms of reference are wide, BIFA will be forthcoming about the issues involved and I hope that our members follow suit.

“I share the opinion of the chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, who said at the launch of the inquiry that whilst we've heard a lot about customs arrangements, border controls, tariffs and trade deals, we haven't heard enough about transport infrastructure, policy and regulation implications affecting freight operators and their customers.

“There remains a great deal of uncertainty for UK freight operators and their customers. The implications of Brexit will vary across freight modes and types of freight. We are being given another chance to reiterate our concerns and tell the Government what is required to keep visible trade moving post-Brexit."

Interested parties can respond to the inquiry using this link.