So, the Conservatives are back at Westminster with a massive majority, but, as we embark on another New Year, what will be the implications for the industry and, in particular, Brexit? And will it speed up the restoration of an Executive at Stormont?
It is too soon to say, but at least the General Election result has provided the industry with new clarity enabling it to some extent to plan for the way forward. That said, the Freight Transport Association is warning that, without the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, there is still the risk of a No Deal departure from the EU on 31 January 2020 and the challenges that will present.
We also need to know what arrangements will be made for imports and exports between the UK and Europe; business needs to know what the processes required will be and have time to learn and implement them.
Another major concern for the industry is the ongoing situation regarding the employment of EU nationals within a sector that relies on them for vital labour. The FTA says that with more than 53,000 lorry driver vacancies already in the UK, and more in warehousing, van driving and other key roles across the sector, the loss of the 343,000 EU nationals working in British logistics firms could see vehicle movements and the supply chain as a whole come to a standstill.
As for a return of a Northern Ireland Executive, well, at least all sides are beginning to engage once more, so let’s see what transpires over the coming weeks and months.
Considering all of the above mentioned concerns and challenges, there is still plenty of positive news about as you will read in this, our first issue of the New Year, including an exclusive ‘face to face’ interview with the CEO of Belfast Harbour which has embarked on ambitious plans for the next 15 years.
Whatever the next 12 months throws at us, we are certain the industry will handle it, as it always does – and don’t forget you can read all about it 24/7 throughout 2020 in your favourite transport & logistics magazine, or by logging on to our website at www.exportandfreight.com
In the meantime, we thank you for all your invaluable contributions and support throughout the past year, and we look forward to building on that during the course of 2020.