Will a future trade agreement raise costs for commercial fleets?


It’s been over 18 months since the UK’s historic referendum on EU membership, but the potential impacts of Brexit still seem to be casting a large question mark over key issues, especially when it comes to trade.

A recently leaked government document – exploring the likely outcomes of a future trade deal – appears to indicate that the UK economy could actually end up worse off under any proposed scenario. The government has stressed, however, that this doesn’t take into account their preferred option of striking a bespoke deal with the EU.

In light of this leak, commercial fleet operators have voiced concerns over the potential impacts on British hauliers if such a special deal cannot be reached.

Rising costs

If the UK reaches the March 2019 deadline with “no deal”, it’s likely that international trade would default to World Trade Organisation rules and tariffs. This prospect has several bosses worried that importing and exporting goods could see price rises, while increased time spent going through customs may lead to costly delays.

The industry publication Fleet News conducted an online poll, where 6 out of 10 respondents now feel that Brexit could bring an increase in costs to fleet operators. This indicates a dramatic shift from a previous poll before the referendum, where 61% believed there’d be no negative affect on the industry.

Checks at the border

A recent blockade at the Port of Calais has prompted the Freight Transport Association (FTA) to point out how delays at the Channel could badly affect future trade. The FTA’s Head of European Policy, Pauline Bastidon, states:

“The Calais-Dover route is a vital one for the successful passage of trade between the UK and continental Europe, and any delays at the ports have a knock-on effect … A mere extra two minutes to process a lorry would cause queues of over 17 miles at Dover.”

With the route accounting for around 20% of the UK’s total trade, the FTA expresses the concern that the effect on the UK’s supply chain would be detrimental if no trade process is agreed.

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