FTAI Conference 2017: Brexit Will Trigger Us to Review and Rethink Supply Chain

To support Irish freight businesses and business relying on freight across the country, the Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI), organised a one-day information seminar at Croke Park on 20th November 2017, entitled “Brexit: the future implications for Ireland/UK Trade”.

Chaired by Aidan Flynn, General Manager of the FTAI, the conference discussed at length the consequences for the ‘just in time’ principle of goods distribution which has flourished due to membership of the single market and Customs Union. The fear is that the border will be anything but frictionless given that FTA reports have shown at least 25km tailbacks will result from even a two-minute delay in transit at Dover/Calais… In other words, just one extra check along the route to market could cost economic trade significantly.

A panel of national and international speakers with in-depth knowledge of Brexit and its potential implications for Irish economic trade and transport industry gathered to discuss the regulatory and pragmatic implications in detail. Speakers included, amongst others, Deirdre Clune MEP (EU Transport Committee), RTE Europe Editor Tony Connelly, and DIT Transport Simulations Expert Dr. Amr Mahfouz. So, let us look at the challenges and opportunities facing freight transport industry as a result:

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  • When the single market or Customs Union are removed there may be prospective administrative burdens, red tape, and delays.
  • Mutual qualification recognition such as Community Authorisations, Driving Licences, Driver CPC and Transport Manager CPC may be prospectively jeopardised.
  • Checks and tariffs may prospectively have to be applied to the UK in the same way as for all third country borders with the EU, meaning that there will be increased costs ultimately affecting competitiveness.
  • Opportunities:

  • Model Simulations show delays, no delay, and upto 3hour delays depending on the quality of decision making and cooperation with customers. Thus, we have an opportunity to work on excelling our decision making to adapt to arising circumstances.
  • An estimated 5000 border staff jobs could be created, as too when we consider the human resource and training requirements.
  • Before we joined the then EEC in 1973, 50% of our exports went to the UK, whereas now that figure is only 17%. So, the export dynamics of any solution will no longer be the same in the whole for procedures, regulations, and practice we put in place.
  • We export €16 billion worth of goods to the UK and we import €14 billion – we should therefore consider ourselves in an evolving set of positive challenges for greater trade opportunity.
  • From Left to Right: Aidan Flynn, GM FTAI; Leigh Pomlett, CEVA; Dr Amr Mahfouz, DIT; Deirdre Clune, MEP; Tony Connelly, RTE; Declan Allen, DIT and Rory O'Leary, Dept. of Transport, Tourism & Sport. (Photo credit: Fleet Transport Magazine)

    In the main, what we have learned according to Aidan Flynn, GM FTAI, is that a consequence of reviewing and rethinking how goods can get to market is not necessarily a bad thing! We are being presented with the prerogative to refine, innovate, and excel at what we have always done well.


    White, P. (2017). Report on the FTAI’s Brexit Seminar. Fleet Transport Magazine (2017/18, Dec-Jan Issue).

    (Photo credit 1 & 3: Pixabay.com)

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