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Brexit, BIFA and BPA: what’s going on?

By 20th February 2017 No Comments
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The word ‘Brexit’ is on everyone’s lips at the moment, including those of the British International Freight Association (BIFA).  BIFA recently stated the P.M.’s Brexit speech resulted in many members being left to deal with uncertainty when it comes to freight operations.

Most of BIFA’s members are UK freight forwarders and when Ms May’s speech fell short when it came to “the details that will assist its members as they go about their business of managing much of the UK’s visible international trade”, many BIFA members were left in a state of flux.

Uncertainty rules

The Director of BIFA stated: “Our members across the country over the last few months have been dealing with a lot of uncertainty. They would have welcomed clarity on the mechanics that will underpin Mrs May’s desire for ‘tariff-free and frictionless trade’.”

May’s speech rejected the Customs Union as the only option going forward committing instead to seek “an ambitious customs agreement” with the EU.

BIFA believe that as Brexit unfolds, there will be many more issues rearing their heads which will impact upon trade and the workings of the freight businesses.

Freight executives are none the wiser

The Director of BIFA further added: “After [the] speech, BIFA is hoping that the government has a fundamental understanding of all of the possible permutations and challenges in regards to our future trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world, post membership of the EU……Freight forwarder executives are none the wiser on the actual mechanics of Britain’s future trading relationships and how they might affect the freight forwarding sector.”

He also pointed out the many details are still up in the air, such as; whether Customs will reintroduce transaction controls; if the replacement for CHIEF could deal with the millions of extra transactions; and finally, how controls of dual-use items will be managed.

He was keen to point out that although May referred to maintaining the common travel arrangements between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, she did not clarify how freight will be managed between the two countries.

The devil is in the detail

“What our members need from Government is some answers to those questions. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. And after today’s much-anticipated speech, much of the real detail is missing,” he added.

The British Ports Association  referred to May’s pointer that the UK will look at negotiating deals forward to allow a future free trade agreement with theEU, feeling that this will be welcomed by many EU ports with EU trade.

“With the Prime Minister indicating that the UK will be leaving the Single Market, the issues and implications of this for UK ports centre around increased Government border activities which could lead to disruption on goods and logistics flow at ports,” a statement by BPA commented.

They will be discussing with the government how the re-introduction of customs and VAT and product classification requirements on Intra EU routes can be best managed at the border.