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Logistics encouraged but not convinced by Brexit White Paper

13 July 2018

The Government has published its Brexit White Paper, following last week’s cabinet meeting at Chequers. The logistics industry has welcomed the Paper’s emphasis on ‘frictionless trade’, but has been underwhelmed by lack of detail on other key areas.

United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) CEO, Peter Ward said: “We welcome some of the content relating to plans for a facilitated customs arrangement (FCA), in so far that it responds to the call from business for minimal disruption to the free flow of goods between the UK and EU member states.

“It is pleasing that, unlike some other members of her party, Prime Minister May appears to be living in the real world and has listened to the needs of the business community.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) deputy chief executive James Hookham added: “The White Paper includes positive proposals for many areas which have caused concern for the logistics industry, and should give businesses, which have been worried about a lack of clarity over future trading arrangements, some level of reassurance.”

But there were other areas of the Paper that industry found less convincing. Lorry permits was one.

Hookham continued: “Of most concern is a lack of clarity over how road transport will be able to operate in the future - a permits system is mentioned in passing, but is really not an option if the thousands of vehicle movements which currently happen to and from the Continent and Ireland are to continue with minimal delays. There is no point in having the most facilitated customs agreement in the world if a permits quota means that trucks cannot move goods freely across borders.”

Migration was another issue of contention.

UKWA's Peter Wards said: “Representing an industry that relies heavily on the contribution of European workers, and already facing an acute labour shortage, it is disappointing for UKWA that the White Paper appears somewhat vague on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy. While emphasising repeatedly that the free movement of people will come to an end, The White Paper says the detail of a new immigration policy will be published in a separate paper later this year.

“It remains to be seen whether this White Paper is a fanciful wish list aimed primarily at uniting a divided government, that will gain firstly the wider support of parliament, the country, and ultimately Brussels, or whether indeed it is purely a starting point for negotiation,” concluded Peter Ward.