*Potential reintroduction of Border checks would have consequences for UK & EU, not just Wales
Ports in Wales are key to the future success of Britain’s trading relationships post-Brexit – that’s according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), following publication of the results of the National Assembly for Wales’ inquiry into the implication of Brexit for Welsh Ports. The FTA has called for the Assembly to keep the pressure on the national Government to ensure that trading relationships and customs arrangements at Welsh Ports are at the heart of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
Having given evidence in front of the Inquiry earlier this year, Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Head of Policy for Wales, was pleased that the committee had noted FTA’s concerns over the need for the maintenance of so-called frictionless trading arrangements between mainland Britain and both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, as Ian points out, it is imperative that the Welsh administration takes urgent steps to ensure that business is not unfairly penalised by a lack of adequate planning to ensure that trade continues to flow through Wales to and from Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“The committee’s findings are a great starting point,” he said, “but they are only that – and there is much work to be done. Approximately 55 million tonnes of trade travelled through Welsh Ports in 2015 and any delays caused by inadequate customs provision could be catastrophic for the businesses on both side of the Irish sea which rely on this transport link.”
“To ensure that Wales and the rest of the UK can continue to trade effectively with Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the European Union, it is vital that delays in port areas are kept to a minimum following Brexit. The needs of the freight sector must be paramount if trade is to continue without time delays or increased costs.”
Industry estimates indicate that the number of HGVs transiting through Holyhead rose by 630% from 1992-2015, from 54,000 to 392,000 per year. This sum represents around half of all goods vehicles moving between Dublin/Rosslare and the English and Welsh Ports. And with a failure to make adequate provision for additional processes now required at the borders threatening not just Welsh business’ profitability, but industry further afield, Mr. Gallagher is keen for the Welsh Government to carry out the recommendations of the committee: “All parties need to consider the consequences of the potential reintroduction of border checks on goods, not just for Wales but the UK and the rest of Europe,” he said.