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Potential Implications Of Brexit For The UK Logistics Industry
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 at 10:17
Brexit and the implications on the UK logistics industry.
This is the battleground for so much of the Brexit debate: the likely impact of leaving the EU on the UK’s balance of payments.
44per cent of all UK exports find their way to EU countries. The implication is clear: leave the EU and that figure might diminish, putting a significant dent in the UK’s GDP.
For logistics companies, the consequences seem obvious. Reduced trade with mainland Europe may equate to less demand for road haulage – even if it doesn’t result in reduced exports overall. That’s because the UK might negotiate trade deals with other, non-EU countries which may not be so easily accessible by road.
On the plus side, any changes are unlikely to happen immediately. Established patterns of trade are difficult to change quickly because of capacity.And all the time trade flows, we will need logistics.
Even if the movement of UK trucks through Europe remains undiminished, many in the logistics industry expect stricter border controls if we leave the EU.
Over time, Brexit will create barriers at borders for the administration of trade in both directions. This will impactlogistics
efficiency, because goods will move slower.
However, there is uncertainty about precisely how border controls would change as a result of Brexit.
It’s hard to predict at this stage how significant these controls could be. If the UK negotiates to rejoin the European Free Trade Area and remain in the European Economic Area, it could benefit from a continuation of the rules governing free movement of goods and people.
A driver shortage
Talking of the free movement of people, one potential knock-on effect of leaving the EU – and tighter migration controls – could be a reduction in the number of EU citizens working for UK-based companies.
This could have a negative impact on the road haulage industry, which relies heavily on drivers from EU member states.
With less opportunity to recruit such drivers, he says that the industry’s ability to serve the economy could be compromised. But he’s quick to identify a solution: more investment in recruiting and training UK drivers through schemes such as the Trailblazer apprenticeship programme.
As with so many aspects of Brexit, it is difficult to predict the legal ramifications of a vote to leave.
The UK’s transport and road safety laws are unlikely to be amended dramatically in the light of Brexit. The fundamentals of safe and compliant operation are not going to change.
One area where some adjustment is in relation to employment law governing EU workers non-resident in the UK –including freight drivers.
Haulage operators need to be prepared for any changes by making sure they are fully compliant with current legislation.
Now would be a good time for operators to review the systems and records in place to ensure that such drivers are properly employed, properly inducted and properly supervised.
It’s possible that Brexit could increase operating costs for logistics companies. Trade tariffs within the EU would raise the bottom line for exporters – a financial hit they might try to pass on to third-party transport providers.
Moreover, reduced freedom of movement around the continent will impair operating efficiency, and inevitablyreduce
A further area of concern is fuel prices. A weakened pound as a result of Brexit could increase the cost of fuel in real terms.
The biggest influences on fuel costs are the global oil price and the fuel duty imposed by the UK government. Neither of these will be directly affected by a vote to leave the EU.