The trade association for UK freight forwarding companies and logistics service providers says that whilst it welcomes some of the announcements in the UK budget, it feels that the issues covered are all overshadowed by the ongoing uncertainty over the shape that the UK’s exit from the EU is going to take.
Mr Robert Keen, Director-General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), says, “Whilst the investment in road transport infrastructure might make a difference to our members, we should not forget that back in November 2015, the government announced that funding would be provided for the largest road investment programme since the 1970s.
“I am not sure that the country’s network of A roads and motorways has become any less congested since that announcement.
“BIFA has said repeatedly that it is imperative that new road building and road reconstruction projects are not only implemented, but developed in such a way as to maximise their functionality to the BIFA members, which as freight forwarders, use them to move Britain’s visible domestic and international trade.
“Hopefully this talk of infrastructure investment will cease to be just talk and we will see some spades in the ground.
“Our members will also welcome the news that the freeze in fuel duty would remain, but would have preferred to see an outright cut, the introduction of an essential user rebate and some form of fuel duty stabilisation mechanism.”
Notwithstanding any of the above, BIFA is concerned by Chancellor Mr Phillip Hammond’s assertion that the spending commitments outlined in yesterday budget statement would not be affected in the event of a no-deal, hard Brexit.
Mr Keen adds: “If that is the case, why would Mr Hammond feel the need to also state that his Spring statement might need to be upgraded to a new hard-Brexit budget?
“Speaking on behalf of BIFA’s members, which facilitate much of the movement of the UK’s visible exports and imports, we believe that any new tariffs and delays that could result from a no-deal Brexit would make today’s announcements unsustainable.
“Our business sector is an accurate barometer of the nation’s trading performance, and wants to see a Brexit deal as closely aligned with the EU Customs Union as possible.
“Our members remain concerned about the potential impact on infrastructure plans, labour shortages and border delays of a no-deal Brexit, and want to see much more progress with the agreement on several key processes if a frictionless border is to be achieved.
“Our members want to see the government achieve an agreement on trade and Customs as an urgent priority.
“That will be of much greater importance to the work of our members than anything announced in yesterday’s budget.”