Freight firms seek six-month Brexit adjustment period 

Ireland’s 'vulnerability' can not be overstated in this new trading landscape the FTAI has warned
Freight firms seek six-month Brexit adjustment period 

A container ship arrives into Dublin Port as a spokesman for the Freight Transport Association Ireland has told the Taoiseach in a letter that the new Brexit requirements for safety and security declarations and import/export declarations sees the industry struggling to keep the flow of goods moving. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Irish freight transporters are seeking a six-month “adjustment period” on post-Brexit trade rules to help counteract the "huge disruption" facing hauliers as Brexit stockpiles dry up.

In a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, the Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) warned that Ireland’s “vulnerability” can not be overstated in this new trading landscape, with rising unemployment, disappearing supply chains and increased prices for consumers likely if the current situation continues as is. 

The association, which represents a broad range of shipping, haulage and passenger transport companies, said statements from Customs and Revenue Commissioners appear to confirm that the implementation of the new procedures is progressing satisfactorily, however, the reality is that current volumes are low.

“There is a growing backlog of goods of all hues, from mechanical parts (car parts) to electrical household goods, furniture, clothing, food supplies sitting in depots because there are not enough agents to process the declarations correctly,” the letter states.

Aidan Flynn, General Manager of Freight Transport Association Ireland.

Aidan Flynn, General Manager of Freight Transport Association Ireland.

“In addition, there are issues with the systems and there are problems with providing enough support and guidance on the new requirements to industry to make this work.

“The net result will be that companies operating on very tight margins will cease trading creating unemployment, supply lines will disappear, and the consumer will be left with less supply and increased prices."

The letter, signed by FTAI general manager Aidan Flynn, also warns that there is not enough ferry service supply on direct routes to continental Europe, with hauliers that had made prior bookings on direct services being "bounced" due to overbooking.

This is despite the expansion of services to Cherbourg and the addition of a new route to Dunkirk from Rosslare.

The FTAI warned that the difficulties currently being experienced are against a backdrop of huge stockpiling pre-Brexit and the “real challenge” is yet to come.

The landbridge through the UK carried approximately 80% by volume of traffic to the EU, according to the FTAI, and that is effectively out of bounds for almost all exporters now due to potential delays at the Channel ports.

“Approximately six out of every 10 trucks returning to this island bring loads to the UK as the balance of traffic with Europe is such that for every ten loads we export, we import only four. Over a period of time therefore, capacity for transporting our exports will shrink, each roundtrip already takes longer, and there will be less capacity available."

“This will have knock-on effects for agriculture, pharmaceutical and other industries where speed of delivery is critical,” the FTAI warned, adding that the reality is there is new cost in the system that will be passed on to the customer.

Bank of Ireland group chief economist, Loretta O'Sullivan warned consumers can expect prices of Irish goods to go up in the coming months.

Bank of Ireland group chief economist, Loretta O'Sullivan warned consumers can expect prices of Irish goods to go up in the coming months.

Earlier this week, Bank of Ireland group chief economist, Loretta O'Sullivan warned that Brexit "red tape" and delays at ports will drive up prices of Irish goods in the coming months.

She said doing business with Britain had become more complex and companies will take on extra costs.

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