FTA, the voice of the logistics industry, is urging Northern Ireland’s traders to recognise how and where customs declarations are to be made after the UK’s departure from the EU, to protect the country’s interconnected and highly complex supply chain from breakdown after Brexit.
With only 42 days left until the Brexit deadline set by the UK’s government, FTA is concerned that many are still unaware that confusion still exists among hauliers and shippers about the method and location of any post-Brexit import/export declarations. FTA’s Seamus Leheny is calling on government to provide guidance for both sectors to ensure that traders realise their responsibilities for declarations and prevent the supply chain grinding to a halt after 31 October:
“Many traders still think and expect that their haulier will carry out all required declarations for shipments in a post-Brexit world,” he says, “while hauliers need to understand that this is the role of the importer or exporter. With so little time left before the UK is set to leave the EU, it is vital that government urgently releases funds to train all those involved in Northern Ireland’s import and export businesses in the necessary procedures or face the prospect of long delays when goods arrive at the border with the incorrect paperwork – or no paperwork at all.
“Those intending to trade with the EU after Brexit need full understanding of what and where they will be required to make declarations, and assistance to ensure all the necessary processes are in place. Failing to provide proper information and guidance for all those in the supply chain is leaving the logistics industry in a precarious position, one which could be avoided with forward planning and the availability of some training.
“It is also unclear what the penalty will be for drivers arriving at the border without the correct clearances for the goods they are carrying, or without the correct documentation – with so little time left to implement new working practices, brief staff and ensure that all concerned are comfortable with the requirements for future trade, the logistics sector is being left unfairly exposed. Government must take urgent steps to provide the correct information and guidance for those who keep our shops, factories, schools and hospitals supplied with vital items – there is simply no time for any more delays”
And as Mr Leheny continues, a lack of correct information and training is leaving both parties exposed to potential problems: “Traders who do not make the correct declarations face delays and increased charges for their products which cross the border, while for the hauliers, non-compliance with the new process will incur financial penalties, longer journeys and additional costs as vehicles are delayed. The logistics industry is agile and versatile, but has a very real need for clear guidance to ensure that the country keeps trading after Brexit. Delays must be avoided at all costs – and it is in the hands of government to guide the logistics sector to ensure they do not happen.”