Many UK industries that have significant trade with the EU are closely monitoring Brexit negotiations, with a lot riding on the talks. The country’s growing logistics industry is no exception, with the way in which drivers can enter EU states post-Brexit still unknown.
A lot depends on what happens at the checkpoints after the UK leaves the EU. Recent discussions about the possibility of a “hard border” between the UK and Republic of Ireland have caused some concern. At the moment, there are no checkpoints on the Irish border, but should relations thaw between both sides, it may get harder to cross the border.
Ease of access to the EU is essential for many ambitious logistic firms. Not having to fill in visa forms or even pay toll fees is a godsend for many of them. The growth in ecommerce in particular has fuelled demand for many delivery services, with consumers able to buy from across the English Channel and Irish Sea without many barriers in place.
Logistics companies and owners of ports across the country have many concerns, but the increase in volume of paperwork and red tape is uppermost in their thinking. After leaving the EU, companies in the UK would have to fill in the same forms as they would for entering countries such as the USA and Canada, namely the Goods Departure Message.
The forms currently in place for exporting outside the EU will almost certainly change. Should the UK be outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), free trade with EU member states would be more difficult, with paperwork an inevitability regardless of where couriers deliver their parcels to.
Any new rules on shipping and delivery will concern packages of all sizes. Even businesses who provide secure document courier services will be affected, effectively filling in a form just to deliver a form. There are likely to be some benefits for the logistics industry once the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is known.
In a post-Brexit landscape, there is a possibility that only one form will be needed to export or import goods. There are presently separate forms for EU and non-EU countries, which can complicate matters. The potential removal of this obstacle will at least save some time, even if the new form may involve taking into account different tariffs for each country.
Another upside for the logistics field is homegrown demand. Should export costs rise as a direct consequence of Brexit, many industries would look to customers and suppliers on their doorstep rather than overseas. This would give businesses with a firmer focus on the UK market an advantage, whilst it could help to bring down costs, increasing profit in the process.
One major logistics firm have set aside their anxieties about Brexit to one side, investing millions in a series of regional hubs. With ecommerce showing no signs of slowing down, couriers will be kept busy in the short to medium-term. It seems that looking inward may provide the industry with a bright future, regardless of what happens in Brussels.