Northern Ireland news

Haulage firm hits out at lack of clarity over no-deal Brexit

Stephen McAneney from transport company Allied Fleet Services

HAULIERS could face a devastating impact on their businesses in the event of a no-deal Brexit, one firm has warned.

Stephen McAneney, from transport company Allied Fleet Services, said there had been a lack of clarity from the government over how hauliers can prepare for a no-deal.

And he said the introduction of crippling export tariffs, which would be introduced if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a formal deal on October 31, will have a knock-on effect on transport companies.

A no-deal Brexit next month is predicted to lead to long delays at ports amid confusion over customs paperwork.

Mr McAneney said if hauliers are given clarity, they will be able to respond to Brexit challenges.

But he said the industry is concerned that Brexit will bring about a huge increase in paperwork.

"Back when the border was there, the paperwork that was required put a lot of pressure on transport businesses," he said.

"Nowadays there are a lot more regulations around driver hours, there are a lot more regulations around transport... with Brexit there is going to be a lot of extra costs."

Mr McAneney said some of the costs will come from having to train staff to deal with any new arrangements.

He said the company had accessed advice from InterTrade Ireland months ago on how to prepare for Brexit.

"It was good but it was just basic level about customs and paperwork; from the government there has been no clarity over what we actually need to do on November 1. That is the scary part," he said.

"We could invest a lot of money and resources into (Brexit planning) which may not be needed.

"The margins in transport are fine as it is. People are reluctant to spend £20,000 or £30,000 on something which may not be needed."

He added: "We did a lot of work in March and when Brexit didn't happen we felt that was time and work wasted."

He said hauliers may not know what Brexit preparation is needed "until the eleventh hour".

"At the minute we're just sitting back and waiting to see what is going to happen," he said.

He said a potential sharp drop in exports as a result of tariffs is "a massive concern".

"There will be no extra tariffs on the transportation of goods," he said.

"It's going to be on the actual goods, which will have more of an impact on our customers.

"Therefore if they have import duty to pay on the product to get it across that's going to affect their price. What they are going to do is go through the supply chain and try and cut costs out."

He added: "There are going to be tough negotiations throughout the supply chain."

Mr McAneney said the haulage industry has tight profit margins of between three and seven per cent and is already facing price hikes in January as a result of fuel surcharges.

"We can't afford to jump back in prices," he said.

"It will have a huge impact on the haulage industry, not just ourselves."

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