With the clock ticking remorsefully toward the 29th of March, experts start to figure out the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the transport and logistics sector in both the UK and Ireland and also the remaining EU member states. The pressing concerns of the eventual withdrawal have prompted intense discussions, and hypotheses have been proffered by experts as to the possible areas of pain for the transport and logistics sector in the forthcoming weeks.
Looking at it from the Irish point of view, the most recent Transport Manager event held on March 5th of last year and traditionally organised by the FTAI in Enfield was dominated by Brexit. After greeting various operators, the FTAI general manager, Aidan Flynn, began the event by advising them to keep planning for a no-deal eventuality, to work with their peers and customers and enhance collaborative relationships, as there are still so many unknowns and unpredictable outcomes.
Two main concerns, as the deadline looms ever closer, are the possible delays and the possible consequences deriving from them, such as road blockages or tailbacks. When it comes to border delays under the current arrangement, transporting goods is relatively straightforward, but once Brexit kicks in, deliveries that were taking from one to three days could take from four to five. According to data shared by the FTAI, custom documents could soar from the current average of 1.7 million per year to the astounding figure of 20 million. Revenue officers might not be in significant force during the first few weeks following the 29th, and it will be very difficult for those in the haulage industry to be ready and compliant with this aspect. Helen McEntee TD., Minister for EU Affairs, who intervened at the event, offered some comforting words to assure operators that the Irish Government is working around the clock in preparation of the consequences and ensuring that the relevant information is readily available.
With regards to possible delays, Flynn has also called upon the government to provide more details of plans for facilities and parking that might serve drivers caught up in tailbacks generated by Brexit and argued that, because the UK is a distribution centre for food and retail in Ireland, if checks are reinforced in anticipation of the ‘third country’ border arrangements that will inevitably happen between Ireland and the UK, there will be serious difficulties and congestion. There is no rapid solution.
Meanwhile, in the UK new research published last week has suggested that the UK’s logistic sector itself will suffer a £6.7 billion reduction in economic output (around 7.8 billion euros).