On 15 March 2017, FTA organised a conference called ‘Keep Britain Trading’ which focused on the trade and logistics implications of Brexit. The conference gathered more than 160 participants from industry, the press and various UK Government Departments.
A key highlight from the event was a keynote speech by the Rt Hon David Jones MP, Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), who highlighted his vision of the UK as a global champion of free trade, noting that high-level dialogues with key trade partners had already started. He pressed industry to recognise that current arrangements would not continue in the future, but highlighted that the UK Government’s aim is to minimise additional red tape and ‘friction’. To this end, the UK Government wishes to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the EU allowing cross-border trade to be as frictionless as possible, as well as a new customs agreement with the EU. David Jones highlighted that there were a number of options for this new customs arrangement, from a completely new agreement, to the possibility of retaining some elements of the existing arrangements, but that, whatever the precise form of these new arrangements, they should allow businesses to maintain many of the benefits they currently enjoy. He also stated that the UK would modernise its customs handling system, replacing CHIEF and making greater use of digital methods. The Minister insisted on the importance of a phased process of implementation, to give industry enough time to plan and prepare for the new arrangements. His speech can be found on the DExEU website: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/david-jones-speech-to-the-freight-transport-association-fta
The event also featured two panel discussions, respectively on trade with the rest of the world, with shippers organisations from Sri Lanka, Australia and Canada, and on trade with the EU, with representatives from BOC Gases, John Lewis, Neovia Logistics and UPS. All participants highlighted the importance of administrative simplification to minimise the impact of customs procedures and of a period of transition to allow businesses to adapt to any new rules. For more information, please contact Pauline Bastidon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the FTA website: www.fta.co.uk/brexit