Freight forwarders call for Britain to remain in Customs Union

With Brexit negotiations between Britain and the EU now underway, an organisation representing British freight forwarders has called for a deal to keep the UK in the European customs union.

The British International Freight Association’s (BIFA) director general said that the UK government should review its decision to leave the customs union in light of the current political upheaval in the country.

He stated: “Efficient and effective visible international trade needs fluidity at the borders and BIFA fears that leaving the customs union will lead to the imposition of tariffs, border checks, customs declarations and bureaucracy for the many UK businesses trading within the EU, as well as BIFA members, which provide the logistics services that underpin such trade.”

In addition Keen called for the UK to maintain the “economic benefits of the UK single market” until a final settlement between the UK and the EU is agreed and implemented.

On the eve of the beginning of Brexit talks, British chancellor Phillip Hammond confirmed the government’s intention to leave both the single market and the customs union.

Full customs union membership prevents Britain from negotiating free trade deals with other countries, which Brexiteers claim hamper its global trading prospects.

However, critics claim that leaving the customs union will slow down trade flows with increased customs checks, while driving up costs, resulting from tariffs.

Keen added: “The government needs to keep an open mind on solutions needed for the post-Brexit period, rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater by having an inflexible attitude on ongoing membership of the customs union.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of Maritime UK, David Dingle the promotional body for the UK maritime sector, said that “a cross-party agreement on Brexit would be a powerful tool to demonstrate a united front in the negotiations”.

“Over the coming weeks and months, the government must demonstrate how it is working to address the everyday considerations of industry and the wider economy – who we recruit, whether goods will be stopped at borders, and whether we will have extra costs to deal with,” he added.

In April, the British Ports Association’s chairman Rodney Lunn said that he would push for EU Port Services Regulation to be repealed.

He also stated: “It is vital that government agrees a post Brexit customs strategy that does not create lorry parks on roads leading to Ro-Ro ports such as Dover, Portsmouth and Holyhead.”

Source: container-mag.com, 26 June 2017

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