UK transport and warehouse firms warn of Brexit border disruption

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Britain’s freight and logistics chiefs are demanding “urgent” talks with the UK government over Brexit border disruption, warning concerns are growing about official preparedness for the end of the transition period.

Eight industry leaders signed a joint letter to minister Michael Gove, warning supply chains will be “severely disrupted” if preparations are not stepped up.

Trade between the UK and the EU will face new obstacles once Britain’s EU transition period finishes at the end of the year, with disruption even greater if no trade agreement is reached.

Industry figures are concerned about the readiness of an army of additional “intermediaries” needed to fill out customs paperwork for firms not currently required for EU trade.

They are also concerned over the readiness of new IT systems needed, as well as border infrastructure for physical checks.

READ MORE: Shop prices ‘certain to rise’ under a no-deal Brexit

The letter says it is “critical” supply chains are protected as Britain completes it transition out of the EU at the same time as a potential second spike of the coronavirus. “The COVID pandemic has demonstrated to both government and the general public the importance of a free-flowing supply chain,” it notes.

The authors, which include the heads of the Road Haulage Association, Logistics UK and the United Kingdom Warehousing Association, write: “As key participants in the supply chain who will be required to deliver a functional operating border for GB and EU traders next year, we have visibility of the current state of preparedness which as it stands has significant gaps.

“If these issues are not addressed disruption to UK business and the supply chain that we all rely so heavily on will be severely disrupted.”

Other signatories include the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, the Cold Chain Federation, the British Association of Removers, the British International Freight Association, and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.

It comes only a few days after retailers warned shop prices were “certain to rise” if prime minister Boris Johnson’s government failed to reach a deal with the EU this year.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) also sounded the alarm over supply chain disruption if a deal to limit “checks and red tape” is not struck, saying it would reduce the availability of goods.

“Lower prices are already under threat from increased costs associated with implementing coronavirus safety measures and are certain to rise if the UK ends the transition period without a trade deal with the EU,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said in a statement.

READ MORE: Pound declines after EU Brexit negotiator says UK trade deal still ‘unlikely’

Shop keepers are warning that prices at the tills are “certain to rise” if Britain fails to reach a trade deal with the EU by the end of this year.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade body for UK retailers, on Wednesday warned that prices would climb if the current Brexit transition period ends in December with no trade deal in place.

“Lower prices are already under threat from increased costs associated with implementing coronavirus safety measures and are certain to rise if the UK ends the transition period without a trade deal with the EU,” Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said in a statement.

Last month the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said a trade deal with the UK by the end of the year looked “unlikely.”

Barnier said negotiations “were going backwards more than forwards.” Both the UK and EU have blamed each other for the stalemate, which has dragged on since the start of the year. The next round of trade talks begin on 2 October, with Barnier warning that time is running out to reach a deal in time for it to be ratified.

The UK government has been approached for comment.

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