Call for implementation period to help hauliers handle Brexit red tape

London, UK: The Road Haulage Association is calling for a six-month implementation period to enable hauliers to adjust to new border checks and customs processes as the transition period ends on 21 December.

The comments follow the announcement that the United Kingdom is to leave the EU with a deal.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “There are, of course, many details to be finalised and confirmed but UK traders and hauliers, dependent upon trouble-free access to the Irish Republic and continental Europe will still be hit by vast amounts of new paperwork processes and of course border checks.

“With only one week to go until the transition period ends on 31 December, it’s essential that we have a six-month implementation period. The British economy cannot afford for UK and EU hauliers and traders to begin 2021 with an ill-prepared journey into the unknown.”

RHA policy director Rod McKenzie told BBC Radio Kent that firms moving goods across borders face delays at ports from 1 January. He said that red tape would kick in and that drivers must have a Covid19 test to enter France until at least 6 January.

Meanwhile, Logistics UK is urging traders to continue to get ready for new trading conditions as they were before, as the new trading relationship will still require many of the same preparations, not least the introduction of customs declarations and additional checks on food and livestock.  Logistics UK is advising traders not leave paperwork to the last minute, or ignore it, as this will cause delays to journeys.

lizabeth de Jong, the group’s policy director, said: “A deal is great news for the UK economy,” says Elizabeth de Jong, the group’s policy director, “since it removes the risk of tariffs being placed on almost every item imported from the EU, which would have raised prices and slowed the rate of economic growth. 

“We are still absorbing all the details, but it looks as though HGVs will continue to have access to the EU market, and aircraft will still be permitted to fly to and from the EU, which safeguards the UK’s highly interconnected supply chains and protects the jobs of those charged with keeping the country stocked with the goods it needs.”

The British Frozen Food Federation welcomed the EU trade deal. BFFF chief executive Richard Harrow said: “Many challenges lie ahead, and the devil will be in the detail of the new agreement, but the top line information that trade will in the majority of cases be tariff and quota free is important.”
 
“Many BFFF members who have not previously exported outside of the EU will now find themselves exporting food even if it is only to the Republic of Ireland. From the 1 January, this will require additional and often complex paperwork including Export Health Certificates for products of animal origin (POAO), pre-notification of shipments to Customs in ROI etc. All of which will place additional burden and costs on the frozen food industry, at a time when many of our members, especially those supplying the out of home market, are struggling to stay in business.”
 
“We still have additional complexity for moving products between GB and NI. In the short term the process for some products will be simplified, but in comparison to how products move today even this is has many additional stages. Also, from April 2021 members will need to provide the same level of paperwork as exporting to the EU and provide new specific labelling for Northern Ireland adding further complexity and cost.”

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, said that he hoped the deal would allow a “spirit of collaboration in working out how the new systems, paperwork and border traffic flows will work”.
 
“The real implementation period for this deal starts now,” said Brennan. “Businesses must renegotiate commercial deals, rethink supply lines, retrain staff and restructure businesses.
 
“I know that in time our economy will thrive, because our great food, pharma and logistics businesses will make sure it does, but our food chain will be slower, more complex and more expensive for months if not years.”

“Brexit is not done, the real work starts now.”

Key items the Cold Chain Federation will be looking at in the deal text include:

  1. The Grace Period: an equivalent grace period for customs and SPS checks to that in place for EU to UK trade on UK to EU Trade – without this the short term disruption and adjustment will be significant.
  2. Haulage
  • reciprocal permanent permission to operate across borders for UK and EU hauliers
  • recognition of professional competence for UK based haulage companies and haulage businesses
  • rules on cabotage (reciprocal allowances for EU and UK haulage businesses to do not just import export transport, but in-country work)
  • security related export declaration requirements
  • recognition of vehicle insurance (green card)
  1. Food Trade
  • eradication of all tariffs
  • statements on minimum or ongoing food standards equivalence, that could allow for potential easements on sanitary or photo sanitary requirements, especially in the most complex and most low risk areas like composite products (eg ready meals, biscuits)
  • any special arrangements for fish trade using special import procedures linked to facilities in Boulogne
  • agreements to allow ongoing trade in key areas like prohibited and restricted goods (like chilled meat currently subject to 6 month grace period in NI) to continue beyond the 6 month period.

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