Well known market intelligence company, Infiniti Research have announced completion of an article on their website outlining what they expect the key challenges of Brexit will be on the logistics industry.
The deadline for the UK and the EU to negotiate a trade agreement is set to end on the 31st December. With the deadline a matter of weeks away, no deal has been struck and it is looking likely that the UK will no longer have access to the single market and customs union. Due to the high amount of cross-border movement within the sector, this will undoubtedly impact the logistics industry in a significant way. According to Infiniti, Brexit is likely to have severe consequences to even the big logistics companies. One significant example of how troublesome Brexit is set to be is through the importation of Britain’s petroleum. At present, over 25% of this commodity passes through the EU before arriving in Britain. With no access to the single market and customs union, a tariff will be applied on this product as it leaves the EU and enters the UK. The extra expense will have consequences on Britain and the EU as those extra costs trickle through the markets.
Brexit and the Top Challenges
Infiniti’s article outlines the following as the logistics sector’s top challenges as the UK leave the single market:
In 2019, 43% of the UK’s exports went to the EU which equated to £294 billion whilst 53% of the UK’s imports were from the EU. With the UK set to not have access to the single market, a rise in tariffs will discourage trade between the EU and these numbers will inevitably decrease. With EU trade, making up such a large percentage of the UK’s total imports and exports, this will undoubtedly make a huge dent in the country’s GDP.
As free movement between the UK and the EU ends, tighter border controls are set to be put into place creating barriers for trade on either side. The UK government has warned of a 6-month disruption period with the worst of it being during the first 3 months. This will mostly be down to additional checks being introduced and the expectation that at the beginning drivers will not have the correct licences and shipments will not be accompanied with the correct paperwork. In an attempt to mitigate these delays as best they can, HMRC have announced there will be a period of leniency for the first 6 months where the new procedures will be simplified. The disruption to the border is already having a knock-on effect on the logistics industry. With businesses predicting delays in supply chains, they have taken to stock piling essential goods. For UK logistic companies, delays in the border will mean a decline in efficiency and potential problems with administration if the correct paperwork and customs fees are not paid.
Another potential problem that Infiniti has outlined will be stricter controls on migration with particular emphasis on EU workers. With freedom of movement coming to an end, citizens of EU states will no longer have the right to work in the UK and will need to apply for the necessary work visas. This will translate to less EU workers working for UK companies. Road haulage is set to be majorly impacted by this, as the sector relies on drivers belonging to other EU countries. Additionally, drivers with UK licences will be required to apply for an international driving permit to transport goods within EU states. These permits will need to be issued for every journey that is made and they are capped in amount. This alone will significantly import the number of times UK drivers will be able to transport goods. Drivers with EU licences will be able to continue to use their licences in the UK but only for a temporary period.
Increase in Operating Costs
With no trade agreement in place with the EU, the cost to import fuel into the UK will rise which will impact on the price consumers pay at petrol stations. This along with added tariffs and duty payments that will need to be handled, managing shipments is going to become considerably more expensive than it was whilst the UK was in the single market.
Prepare for the Worst
Due to lack of direction from the government and the ongoing issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, logistics companies have been slow to prepare for the looming deadline of 31st December. Businesses are being urged by experts to not, “sit on their hands and hope for the best,” and to instead do the research themselves to ensure that they know what is expected of them. Holding out for a trade deal at this late stage is wishful thinking and will be detrimental to businesses going forward. The UK government are urging companies and their affiliates to start preparing for the new legislation, understand what is required of them and to ensure that their associates are updated.