International hauliers call for free trade access

Haulage companies based in Europe, along with UK-based operations with international and pan-European contracts, have called on the UK government to ensure tariff-free access and freedom to recruit non-British drivers in the wake of the country’s referendum on EU membership.

Drapeaux européens devant le Berlaymont

The two issues were by far the biggest concerns raised by international members of the Freight Transport Association in its post-‘Brexit’ poll, which sought to identify the concerns of multinational hauliers following the historic vote.

The results of the poll were revealed this week, almost three weeks after the referendum, as businesses have had some time to review the potential impact of the ‘leave’ motion. However, while 64% of freight operators that took part in the survey have said that they view their short term business prospects with some pessimism, only 50% think that Britain’s exit from the EU will make things worse in the long term, with the other half expecting trading conditions to either remain the same or improve.

The hauliers, based across Europe and other overseas markets, were polled on a number of issues and many of those who responded agreed it was too early to make a precise judgement until the terms of Britain’s trading arrangement with the EU were finalised. However, their top three priorities were continued full access to the Single Market, tariff-free access for goods and preservation of access to the Single Market for services and employees.

The latter is particularly important for UK-based hauliers, as the well-documented skills and driver shortages within the goods industry remain a significant challenge, with no obvious short term solution. They believe the ability to hire non-UK drivers, who would have the right to work in both the UK and in the Single Market, is critical to the long term health of the haulage industry.

Chris Yarsley, the FTA’s EU Affairs Manager, said, “With the UK’s current driver shortage, it’s no surprise that labour mobility issues are at the forefront of international transport businesses’ minds and this is certainly something FTA will be pressing the government to prioritise when negotiations begin.”

“These results reflect the fact that companies prefer certainty to the unknown, which is where we find ourselves at the moment. However, FTA and its members are ready to face the challenge head-on and engage with governments to obtain the best possible deal so that UK operators can continue to deliver the goods, no matter where they are.”