Logistics UK’s chief executive David Wells OBE has raised concerns about the upcoming Bill set to take effect in December 2023 in a letter addressed to PM Rishi Sunak.
The proposed changes could have an extensive impact on businesses trading across the UK’s borders, including increased costs and trade barriers that could hinder the movement of goods and harm the country’s economy. Wells also expressed apprehension regarding the risk of unintended consequences due to a lack of oversight, as regulatory changes could be applied rapidly.
“Britain’s logistics businesses keep the UK trading and drive the country’s economic recovery by reinforcing existing trading relationships and establishing new ones. But with at least 4,000 EU laws across around 500 policy areas affected by the REUL Bill, the impact of its implementation will be significant.
“Our members operate on very narrow margins and have already absorbed significant costs as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU. Coupled with the ongoing uncertainty over what legislation will be retained, removed or improved, and how those changes will need to be implemented and when, it is clear that logistics businesses are increasingly concerned about the scale of the task ahead.”
As Wells continues, logistics businesses have already had to adapt to significant changes in the past few years, prompted by both the pandemic and also the UK’s departure from the EU:
“Logistics is, by its very nature, flexible and adaptable, but implementing new trading processes and adapting to new regulatory conditions will take time and money. The lack of clarity over what will need to change and by when is causing great uncertainty across our industry, a sector which is at the heart of all trading relationships, both domestically and internationally.
Smooth border processes
“Trade benefits from smooth border processes, simple procedures and fewer regulatory differences for logistics workers or vehicles. Any changes need to deliver clear benefits, manage the scale of change effectively and recognise the attendant costs and time required to implement and bed down new systems and processes – assuming the necessary IT solutions are available.”
Wells is keen for the government to take a considered, measurable approach to the process so that both industry relationships and overseas trading connections can be protected:
“It is vital that the approach taken is carefully considered and that we do not rush through changes which duplicate effort or disadvantage our sector and the UK’s consumers. We need a clear timeline for the changes which will be required to protect the UK’s highly-interconnected supply chain, while minimising unnecessary change and delivering clear, positive benefits to UK PLC.
“Logistics UK and its members remain committed to keeping the UK’s trading relationships open and effective but need the assistance of government to ensure that the industry has full insight of the plans being considered and a meaningful feedback process which will enable discussion and debate. Our priority must be to ensure goods continue to move smoothly across the UK’s borders for the benefit of consumers and business.”