With the Government now having triggered Article 50, the Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) has urged Theresa May and David Davis to negotiate a mutually-beneficial new customs agreement based on zero or low tariffs.
The BMF is concerned that leaving the Customs Union without a comprehensive UK-EU free trade agreement will unsettle business confidence and planned investments, with severe consequences for the building materials’ supply chain.
More should be done to prepare for the possibility of no deal with the EU – and the unwanted extra bureaucratic and financial burdens that will arise from that, says the BMF.
John Newcomb, Managing Director of the BMF, commented: “Builders’ merchants already face significant material price rises due to currency fluctuations and worry that proper consideration is not being given to other obstacles that hamper trade.
“Ministers ought to be looking at whether HMRC and other agencies have sufficient resources to deal with millions more customs’ declarations that will be necessary. If border inspections at ports are not properly resourced, consignments will be stuck on the quayside causing unnecessary backlogs and delays in fulfilling customer orders.
“Last month, for example, the Swedish National Board of Trade said that all Brexit scenarios will mean increased business costs as administrative requirements and controls are applied. Sweden is the UK’s most significant timber trading partner so any forecast of more expensive and difficult trading arrangements will have significant implications for importers and merchants.”