Freight forwarders set to play a key role in tidying up the Brexit mess

Freight forwarders set to play a key role in tidying up the Brexit mess

April 25, 2019

Brexit has rocked the boat for a number of businesses across the UK – but for the logistics industry this period of economic uncertainty has been particularly concerning. Here Lee Steward explains how Morrison Freight has been weathering the storm.

I think we can all agree that Brexit, to date, has been baffling.

Political plot twists and uncertainties. The pound swinging around wildly. Leavers. Remainers. Believers. Complainers. It’s all been a bit of a rollercoaster.

Meanwhile many companies across the UK are struggling to make some sense of what may lay ahead.

What’s affecting us?

Last month HMRC released more news on Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) for Customs in the event of a no-deal.

This will see the date when the first supplementary customs declarations must be submitted – and any import duties must be paid – extended to October 4.

HMRC has also agreed to allow freight forwarders to operate TSP on behalf of their clients.

However, there is still no clarity on whether the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accreditation will suffice in its place.

Both promise to make it easier for businesses to import goods from the EU using roll-on roll-off locations like Dover or the Channel Tunnel.

But the government has been pushing TSP – a UK-only no-deal customs facilitation scheme – instead of the AEO quality marker – which is an EU-wide scheme – since February.

What have we done?

There’s currently a six-month waiting list for AEO applications – there are only 600 companies in the UK who have obtained it so far.

Meanwhile, less than half of the applications from UK firms for TSP status have been approved by HMRC since 2016 – creating an enormous backlog.

But we are forward-thinking.

Back in 2016 – before TSP even existed – we invested heavily in securing AEO status.

We have also successfully applied and obtained TSP status in the last month too.

We are a big Suffolk company that employs 18 and have worked hard to make sure we could weather the Brexit storm.

Protecting the industry

Box ticking and red tape is getting everyone in knots – particularly when we still have no idea of when and how we are going to leave the EU.

Our industry needs clarification on our new responsibilities post-Brexit and we need the government to speed up processes to make sure we are all kitted out with the right paperwork.

We know a no-deal departure would be very disruptive and damaging for the UK economy.

But freight forwarders could play a key role in tidying up the mess left by the politicians.

After all, if UK importers and exporters can continue trading with the rest of Europe as efficiently and quickly as possible after the exit, we are the ones who can keep international trade afloat.