FTA, the only business organisation representing the logistics sector, has outlined the importance of the industry at an exclusive meeting with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith, at Stormont yesterday (30 July 2019). With over 13,500 vehicles crossing the border every day, Seamus Leheny, FTA’s policy manager for Northern Ireland, stressed the need for clarity over how goods and services will be moved after the UK’s departure from the EU to Smith, and whether permits will be required.
“Northern Ireland’s economy is dependent on a seamless supply chain,” says Leheny, “and has many complex and interdependent relationships with businesses on both sides of the border. Today’s meeting provided a great opportunity to outline the intricacies of the system to the Secretary of State, and highlight those areas which still cause concern for logistics businesses.
“70 per cent of freight crossing the Northern Ireland border is classed as intermediate – ingredients, components and the like. As such it may require additional journeys in order to render finished products for sale, and it is vital that, at this late stage in the Brexit process, logistics businesses are provided with answers on how these vehicle movements are to be organised, the duties payable and collection methods to be used. Smith listened closely to the concerns of industry, and has promised to provide the answers industry needs in a timely fashion.
“A No Deal Brexit would pose problems for our sector, as well as for others involved in today’s meeting, and we were all encouraged by Smith’s willingness to engage with and understand our concerns. It is critical to the future success of Northern Ireland’s supply chain that FTA is involved in meetings like this, and we will be maintaining our dialogue with Smith and his team to ensure that the country’s logistics industry is protected as far as possible as the UK leaves the EU.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.