The UK is ready to allow trucks from all EU countries to enter without the need for permits, reports Reuters. Such a solution in the event of hard Brexit has been proposed in recent days by the British government. At the same time, the government admitted that it hoped that the Community authorities would be equally flexible. That’s not all. The media also revealed a “secret plan” concerning customs, prepared by one of the British ministers. When it was announced, British companies began to protest loudly. This is the “ultimate betrayal”, they said.
The potential problems of crossing the British border were already raised by logistics companies some time ago.
We are very concerned that we do not see any preparations on the British side related to the UK’s withdrawal from the customs union, we are still waiting for information about permits – said Joanna Popiołek, Deputy Director of the Transport Department of the Association of International Road Carriers in Poland in mid-January, during a meeting with the Minister of Infrastructure, Andrzej Adamczyk.
– Today, the only legal mechanism to be applied after Brexit is the system of ECMT permits, of which there are slightly more than 60,000. Meanwhile, Poles themselves carry out about half a million one-way transports – reminded Tadeusz Wilk, advisor to the President of ZMPD.
Already at that time, the representatives of ZMPD pointed out that “the British are aware of this gross disproportion. Therefore transport, at least in the first period after Brexit, should be carried out by mutual departure from the permits”.
It seems that the British Government will indeed follow this path. Two days ago, it proposed that “drivers coming from 27 EU markets should be able to enter the UK freely, thus guaranteeing supply chain security”.
They carry goods worth hundreds of billions of pounds
“The UK needs to be sure that foreign goods will be imported into the UK and that British exports will continue,” the government says in a statement. And the flow of goods on this route is indeed significant. According to Reuters, “the transport industry transports goods worth close to £420 billion in both directions, thus supporting manufacturers and retail trade”.
More than 80 percent of these goods is carried by trucks from the European Union – adds Reuters.
The authorities are counting on such a solution not only to ensure further, safe development of international trade but also to secure their carriers. According to the government’s statement, the first steps towards facilitation for UK companies have already been taken by France.
So far, the European Union has been ready to facilitate the entry and movement of British drivers for nine months after Brexit. However, the British are hoping to negotiate even better conditions.
In the opinion of some ministers, such negotiations are to be facilitated by another solution, which they are currently discussing behind closed doors, so when the details concerning it leaked to the media, the local businesses did not fail to criticise it vehemently.
It is about the possibility of abolishing customs duties on goods from the European Union entirely, in the event of hard Brexit. This is being considered by Trade Minister Liam Fox. As the Huffington Post revealed, “ministers secretly plan to reduce all duties to zero unilaterally (…) which could result in flooding the market with cheap goods and ruining the domestic industry.”
Liam Fox argues that in this way he wants to combat the sharp rise in inflation that he expects after 29 March (the date of the UK’s exit from the EU). He claims that consumers will benefit from the abolition of customs duties.
They are afraid of cheap goods and the collapse of the industry
The same cannot be said of the British producers who (together with the Minister’s political opponents) have already defined his plan as “ultimate betrayal given Brexit” and “mere madness”.
“Reducing all import customs duties to zero would weaken our domestic producers in their home markets and threaten to severely cut jobs in key sectors, from ceramics to agriculture,” says Barry Gardiner, Shadow Trade Minister, quoted by the Huffington Post.
He adds that the author of the solution “does not seem to understand the basic principles of trade negotiations: your side wants the other side to liberalise its markets and reduce duties on the goods you export there. However, if you have already reduced all your tariffs to zero, you have nothing to offer during negotiations.”
He (Liam Fox – editorial note) no longer just shoots himself in the foot. He shoots himself in both of them – he criticizes vividly.
There is little time left to establish the rules governing international trade after the UK’s departure from the EU. Today, Prime Minister Theresa May will meet the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to present her country’s latest proposals for a “divorce” with the Community.
There is a lot of speculation. The British media even report that the UK will try to postpone the Brexit date by eight weeks. However, this may not be easy, as the representatives of the Union have long been firm of the opinion that there can be no question of making greater concessions.