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Trade bodies representing the logistics industries have welcomed government plans to phase in border controls for imports from the EU.

On Friday last week (12 June) the government announced that customs controls on goods entering Great Britain from the EU will be introduced in three phases from the start of next year, with customs declarations only being required for all goods from July.

The move followed months of lobbying pressure from organisations including the Freight Transport Association (FTA), UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), British International Freight Association (BIFA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA). 

Industry response

These bodies broadly welcome the three-phase plan but maintain that a deal with the EU must be secured.

UKWA chief executive, Peter Ward, said the approach was “pragmatic” and showed the government is “listening” to industry. He said declarations on all EU imports by the end of the year “would not have been feasible”.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett also told the FT the approach is “pragmatic” but warned it would only solve half of the problem, with the EU indicating it will not replicate the approach for UK goods going into the EU.

FTA also broadly welcomed the announcement but acknowledged to Lloyd’s Loading List that a unilateral approach is still needed, with checks and documentation still required for UK goods moving to the EU.

BIFA director general Robert Keen said the freight industry hopes for a deal to be agreed between the EU and UK before end of the year. He said:

“Even with a phased transition for the new border processes, and the promise of an additional £50m investment in Customs IT infrastructure and training, we remain concerned on a number of issues, including recruitment of staff qualified and experienced in customs procedures and the lack of available time to train newcomers, which is not a five-minute job.”