FTA, the business group speaking for the UK logistics sector, is backing Stormont’s call for additional time to be added to the Brexit transition period as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the industry’s resources, and government engagement on the Northern Ireland Protocol stalls.

Following his participation at the House of Lords Select Committee yesterday (3 June 2020), Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for Northern Ireland at FTA, comments: “With less than seven months until the end of the Brexit transition period, FTA and its members in Northern Ireland are deeply concerned by the lack of government engagement on the Protocol. Alongside the British Retail Consortium and Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association, with whom we jointly gave evidence to the Committee yesterday, FTA is urging the government to engage with business organisations urgently so logistics businesses and operators can prepare for the successful implementation of the UK’s departure from the EU, which observes the rules of the NI Protocol. It is imperative that a fully functional working group be established immediately if the industry is to be ready for the post-Brexit trading environment on 1 January 2021.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic monopolising the industry’s attention, FTA is backing Stormont’s calls for an extension to the Brexit transition period, to allow an implementation period in which all necessary preparations for EU departure can be made. Businesses need clarity on the new trading agreement so they can prepare effectively for the massive changes that will undoubtably come.”

Mr Leheny continues: “Northern Ireland’s future prosperity relies on the Protocol being implemented effectively with minimal disruption; frictionless trade must be maintained. Alongside other industry groups, FTA is ready to work with both Stormont and Westminster to ensure trade remains as resilient as possible in the months ahead.”

Seamus Leheny reiterated these concerns at a media briefing hosted by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium today (4 June 2020).

FTA is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.  With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. FTA supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. For more information about the organisation and its work, including its ground-breaking research into the impacts of COVID-19 on the whole supply chain, please visit www.fta.co.uk.