'High levels of concern' over UK/EU trade from next year

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
11 November 2020

Hauliers have “high levels of concern” about the readiness of systems to cope with the paperwork that will be required to move goods across the UK/EU border from next year.

Elizabeth de Jong, policy director at Logistics UK, told MPs on the Future Relationship with the EU Committee there had been delays in the production of the “Haulier Handbook”, designed to give clear guidance to drivers of all relevant nationalities about what was required to cross the border.

De Jong said a “semi-complete” version of the handbook was now expected on 18 November with the full version scheduled for 7 December, less than four weeks before the Brexit transition period ends on 1 January.

MPs were told of concerns around various software systems firms must use to ensure goods are able to flow between the UK and EU and between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

“We do have high levels of concern around gaps in important areas of information for EU/GB trade,” said De Jong.

“To be ready we need roughly 8,000 haulage companies and 200,000 trading companies to be ready and this cuts across many areas of government responsibility.”

She added: “I think it’s unrealistic to expect that the whole chain of complex supply, paperwork and systems will be working seamlessly on the first of January.”

Steve Bartlett, chairman of the Assocation of Freight Software Suppliers, told MPs there was particular concern around the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), which is being phased in and currently runs alongside the existing Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight service. From 1 January CDS will be used for goods moving between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

“We are very worried because it’s very much an unproven system,” he said.

Bartlett said there were “at least five other systems that need to be modified” to enable trade between the UK and EU. “Our enemy is time,” he said.

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