Published: 09:23, 26 March 2020
| Updated: 09:24, 26 March 2020
Hauliers say they want an extension to the Brexit deadline because the focus on the coronavirus crisis is leaving too little time to implement legislation needed.
The Freight Transport Association says the challenges to the industry posed by Covid19 will make the effective implementation of any new legislation impossible in the short term.
The UK is officially leaving the EU in January next year and currently the existing customers and border arrangements remain the same.
But the FTA has warned that time is running out for trade deals and border arrangements to be ratified by that deadline.
As a result, the industry is petitioning government urgently to seek an extension to the current transition period for leaving the European Union, as well as suspending other planned domestic legislation which will impact the logistics sector.
Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director at the FTA, said: “This is not about the relative merits of Brexit, or any trading arrangements which our industry will need to adopt. This is purely and simply so the businesses tasked with keeping the UK’s supply chain intact can concentrate on the serious issues which the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on the industry.
“Logistics is facing unprecedented challenges, both in terms of keeping the UK economy supplied with all the goods it needs to function, as well as coping with the increased disruption to staffing levels caused by sickness and self-isolation and concerns about the viability of their businesses.
"Our first priority is always to deliver for our customers, and there is simply not enough capacity available to plan the major structural changes needed to implement a successful departure from the EU, as well as the myriad of other planned legislation changes on the horizon, as well as dealing with unprecedented pressures caused by COVID-19.”
Under the terms of the UK's departure from the EU, the government would need to ask for an extension by June this year. If it does not and there is no deal by January 2021, the UK would move to World Trade Organisation quotas and tariffs.
Top negotiating officials from both the UK and the EU are in isolation.
“We are confident that we can get this done, and I do not think that delaying Brexit negotiations would give anyone on either side of the channel the certainty they need,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.