As UK and EU negotiations concerning Brexit started during this week, the British International Freight Association argues that UK government’s decision to not extend the 11-month transition period, is a risky move. For the records, EU shipping had expressed its aim to maintain its trade relationship with the UK several months ago.
Following the above, the director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), Robert Keen noted:
“In light of the huge issues involved with a sharp change in trading conditions at the start of 2021, particularly if that were to coincide with another Covid-19 outbreak, we think an extension looks increasingly likely. Our understanding is that there has been very little progress to date on key negotiating points.
There has been little meaningful consultation with UK trade regarding the policies and procedures required in order to ensure that trade with the EU can continue relatively uninterrupted post December 31st 2020.
Trade deals are typically multi-year exercises, but in this case, the UK and EU realistically have until October to agree on terms, allowing time for ratification. And while formal talks are continuing, many of the civil service resources previously assigned to support negotiations have been reallocated to deal with the coronavirus emergency response.”
Moreover, BIFA considers that the transition period wasn’t just designed to facilitate negotiations, but also to provide businesses time in order to prepare for the future relationship.
The association’s members also reported that are in no position to respond to a second massive shock if there is significant change in the terms of trade with the EU at the end of the year, since the government has stuck to its guns over the transition period.
We believe that refusing to even consider extending the transition period is very risky and together with a growing chorus of Brexit commentators, think an extension to the transition period remains likely, and it is really only a question of ‘when’.
…as Robert Keen concluded.