The FTA urged the National Assembly for Wales to keep pressure on the national government to ensure that trading relationships and customs arrangements at Welsh ports were at the heart of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
Ian Gallagher, the FTA’s head of policy for Wales, called on the Welsh administration to ensure that business was not penalised by a lack of adequate planning to ensure that trade continued to flow.
“The committee’s findings are a great starting point, but they are only that – and there is much work to be done,” said Gallagher.
‘Catastrophic for the businesses’
“Approximately 55Mt of trade travelled through Welsh ports in 2015 and any delays caused by inadequate customs provision could be catastrophic for the businesses on both sides of the Irish sea, which rely on this transport link.”
The needs of the freight sector should be a top priority if trade was to continue without time delays and increased costs, Gallagher added.
He warned a failure to make adequate provision for additional processes – that would be required at the borders – threatened not just Welsh businesses’ profitability, but industry further afield.
“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.”
Implication of Brexit on Welsh ports
The comments followed the Welsh Assembly’s inquiry into the implication of Brexit on Welsh ports, which raised concerns over the need for the maintenance of ‘frictionless’ trading arrangements between the mainland and both Northern Ireland and the Republic.
It warned lengthy delays, tailbacks on Welsh roads and disruption to freight supply chains could become the norm without proper planning for ports in Wales, following Britain’s exit from the EU.
Chair of the external affairs and additional legislation committee David Rees said: “We learned that many Welsh ports lack the physical capacity to accommodate new customs and border checks, which could have an unwelcome effect – including increased delays and congestion.
“This would have a serious economic impact in Wales and it is vital that the Welsh government works with the UK government to ensure that our ports and our industries aren’t unfairly disadvantaged by Brexit.”
You can read the full report on the implications of Brexit for Welsh ports here.