What does Brexit mean for the logistics industry?

It’s been over two years since the vote on Brexit, yet many still remain divided over the best plan to take UK forward following its scheduled departure from the European Union on March 29, 2019.  

On the logistics sector, just as among the general public, opinion is split. But one thing for sure is that there will be an enormous effect for logistics players on both sides of the English Channel no matter the final deal.  

Those who are positive about Brexit will suggest that the future is bright, with the UK able to continue a positive relationship with Europe but also place itself at the head of global customs arrangements. This could be the best chance for the UK to establish itself as a global trading nation, with streamlined processes providing an attractive option for businesses around the globe.   On the other hand, others will point to the uncertainty surrounding residency rights for EU workers in the UK. This is a major headache for the logistics sector which often relies on experienced foreign workers and drivers. A Brexit deal that places restrictions on the EU nationals to work in the UK could cause a significant gap in the workforce.    

Fuelling the changes  

One key question for the logistics sector centres around fuel. As the UK relies heavily on imported natural resources, Brexit could have a significant effect on price rises on goods entering the UK from EU countries. Export costs will then also rise, and higher costs will have a ripple effect throughout the logistics industry.  

Logistics firms will likely pass these costs onto their customers, but there are new strategies emerging that could ease this scenario.  

For example, truck and van manufacturers are looking at creating vehicles less reliant on traditional fuels, while new steps in technology are helping logistics firms to become more efficient through route planning, stock optimisation and better returns policies.    

People power

Avoiding a so-called ‘talent drain’ is vital for the logistics industry. That’s why the government has already suggested singling out specific sectors for targeted recruitment from abroad.  

Reports suggest that around 10% of commercial drivers in the UK are from other EU nations. That’s a big hole to fill in a short period of time, especially as many will already be looking for work back on the continent ahead of the UK’s withdrawal.  

These jobs are often seen as unfashionable or not for young people, but technology is again changing perceptions around these job roles. The latest devices are designed with the user in mind, allowing them to get on with their job and provide high levels of customer service without so many paper-based processes.  

Best of both  

In the logistics sector as with many others, it’s important that collaboration is prioritised, and progression is encouraged. Disruption and uncertainty have already played too much of a part in negotiations, but all sides need the best possible outcome if they want to succeed post-Brexit.  

 

The Exeter Daily