I come with exciting (and hopefully relieving) news this month. In her recent speech in Florence, Theresa May suggested delaying a full Brexit until 2021. Instead, she’s in favour of implementing a two-year transition period, during which all free-trade agreements would be maintained. This is great news for the transport industry, as it would give haulage companies and freight forwarders more time to put new policies and procedures in place and maintain steady trade after Britain leaves the European Union.
Why is the Transition Period Important?
In case you are wondering how this transition period affects you, let me explain. It has particular relevance when it comes to the logistics industry. I think you’ll agree with me when I say that logistics affect our day-to-day lives, as they ensure that goods are successfully delivered to and around the UK. Before Britain officially leaves the EU, the transport industry needs to ensure that drivers will still be able to cross borders and that lorries will keep moving. These two years will give freight forwarders and haulage companies the necessary time to tackle these issues proactively. Essentially, the transition period will help minimise the challenges our industry faces in a post-Brexit world by giving us more time to prepare for it.
How Did the FTA Respond?
With relief, joy and a little concern. That pretty much sums it up. I’m sure that members of the Freight Transport Association felt all of these emotions. Ever since the vote, FTA members have been concerned that getting goods and services to their destination would be an insurmountable task post Brexit. May’s speech shows an acknowledgement from government that maintaining trade with the EU is a complex task, and her announcement brought relief to the transport industry.
As Pauline Bastidon, the FTA’s head of European Policy, said: “[May’s] call for a transitional period, to give enough time for negotiators to conclude a trade agreement, and for authorities and businesses to adapt, is a huge relief for a logistics industry charged with ensuring that trade continues to move smoothly after Brexit”.
What about Trade with Ireland?
Naturally, the FTA is pleased with May’s announcement, but her speech also raised a few eyebrows. Many have pointed out that she did not address the trading arrangement with Ireland. As you may know, several haulage companies rely heavily on their trade with our Irish neighbours, and need some sort of guarantee that trade and transport will continue to flow freely across the border after Brexit. Working along FTA Ireland, the FTA is pushing for a solution that allows Ireland to continue trading with both the UK and the EU. Let’s hope that maintaining trade with Ireland will be guaranteed soon. For now, however, we’ll have to wait and see.
While May’s speech has calmed the transport industry’s nerves a little, making haulage companies and freight forwarders feel heard, the journey towards Brexit is going to be a long and complicated process. Many questions remain unanswered, and the FTA (along with you and I, I’m sure) will be watching closely to see if the government’s words are supported by actions.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service, updating members with the latest information on issues affecting road safety, fuel costs, and other news from the transport industry. Matching delivery work with available vehicles, over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.