The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the government to secure an advantageous customs deal with the EU ahead of Brexit in 2019.
The BRC warned that agreements must be put into place in order to avoid goods being held up at borders. It suggested that delays or disruption could lead to rising prices, reduced availability on shelves and an increase in waste.
Investment in ports, roads and transport infrastructure should be prioritised to ‘get systems ready’ for the day when the UK leaves the EU in 2019, the BRC stated.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, commented: ‘A strong deal on customs is absolutely essential to deliver a fair Brexit for consumers.
‘Whilst the government has acknowledged the need to avoid a cliff edge after Brexit day, a customs union in itself won’t solve the problem of delays at ports.
‘So to ensure supply chains are not disrupted and goods continue to reach the shelves, agreements on security, transit, haulage, drivers, VAT and other checks will be required to get systems ready for March 2019.’
The government recently published a Brexit customs position paper, which set out two approaches: a ‘highly streamlined’ customs arrangement between the UK and the EU, and a new customs partnership with the EU.
A second paper outlined proposals to ensure that existing trade in goods and services can continue after the UK leaves the bloc.