Freight Forwarders in Ireland Uncertain Over Brexit


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The dust has started to settle on the Brexit vote but uncertainty remains in many areas. The UK’s Freight Transport Authority (FTA) has given a warning to the UK that quitting the European customs union before leaving the EU could be risky and could also impact on freight forwarders in Ireland. The FTA has asked the UK government to meet with freight companies to discuss how supply chains may be affected by Brexit. This trade body has been very vocal in its discussions around Brexit – in a recent blog post Cargocare discussed what the FTA has highlighted as the top ten issues facing the industry.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of confusion within the industry as no definitive decision on how the UK will negotiate its exit from the EU has been given.


Here’s some thoughts on what may happen…….

Tariffs on the Cards

James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the FTA, has said they aren’t fully against exiting the customs union with the EU but has warned that the move may be a little hasty considering that 50% of the exports from the UK are into the EU single market. Hookham highlighted the fact that if there was a withdrawal he expected to see tariffs being imposed on exports in line with World Trade Organisation rules. It’s feasible that tariffs could be 10% or higher for goods entering the EU from the UK.

There has been a call from some to use retaliatory tactics on goods coming from the EU and imposing similar tactics but Hookham doesn’t see the benefit in this approach as Britain relies far more heavily on the EU market that the EU relies on the UK market. This approach could also make British jobs more vulnerable as the price of good entering the EU would increase, thus lowering demand.

The main priority for the FTA in avoiding congestion in trade flows and increased costs – the UK government needs to establish what the new terms of access for shipping goods into the EU would be.

Freight Forwarders – The Irish Perspective

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Trade between Ireland and the UK has grown steadily over the past three decades as illustrated by Central Statistics Office. This increased level of trade is very important to the Irish economy and freight forwarders in Ireland need certainty going forward. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) has stated that over €1.2 billion in goods and services are traded each week between Ireland and the UK. This level of trade makes the UK Irelands largest trading partner.

Irish companies are looking to the EU to help support jobs by acknowledging a long-standing connection has developed between the two nations. The extent of our physical and trading connectivity means that Ireland is placed to be most adversely effected out of any country within the EU. Former Taoiseach John Bruton has been quoted as saying “It’s the most serious, difficult issue facing the country for 50 years

The FTA would have considered a similar approach to the trade agreements that exist between the EU and Norway, Switzerland and Turkey as being the best approach however Prime Minister Theresa May has suggested starting with a blank canvas.

Several recent studies have found that a withdrawal from the customs union has the potential to result in a drop of 4.5% in GDP in the UK by 2030. This is a worrying statistic and whatever the outcome freight forwarders in Ireland and the UK are keen to work towards stability and want clarity and involvement in any new trade deals.

Cargocare Freight Forwarders Ireland & UK

Having operated in both the UK and Irish markets for over 30 years, we are experts in freight forwarding between the two markets.  We pride ourselves on helping our customers with their shipping requirements, offering a flexible, reliable service – please contact us at our Dublin or London offices for more information.