An expert in exporting who has spent over 20 years urging businesses to make the most of selling abroad is now facing up to the prospect of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union as the General Election looms.
Adam Shuter, managing director of Rugby-based Exact Logistics, was part of the Confederation of British Industry team that worked on preparing businesses to make the most of opportunities in the EU when customs barriers were dismantled in 1992.
With Europe being a hot topic on the General Election trail, Adam has warned transport prices will rise and the system become less efficient should the UK withdraw its membership from the European Union.
Exact Logistics has practiced what Adam has preached since the company, based on the Dunchurch Trading Estate, delivers pallets throughout the UK and Europe and specialises in UK-Germany-UK export routes.
Adam, who wrote the book to accompany the CBI Initiative called Transport and Distribution, said it was ironic that after spending nearly 25 years urging businesses to export that the opportunity may be taken away from them.
“In the early 1990s, we were looking forward to a brave new world where transporting goods to Munich would be as simple as sending goods to Manchester,” he said. “The vision that we had in those long forgotten days has undoubtedly been achieved.
“These services give users more flexibility to trade with our EU partners adding wealth to our country. Exporters and importers can send and receive goods to and from EU countries as if they were domestic shipments.
“But one of the big myths about leaving the EU is that we could still continue to trade as if nothing had changed.
“This is incorrect as the UK would have to record all its imports and exports to the EU through a different method than that of today. That different method will be back to some form of customs clearance probably along the lines used by countries such as Norway and Switzerland.
“The impact of this change will be to make the transport system to and from the EU more inefficient and cause transport prices to rise.
“The inefficiency will come from the need to inspect a number of goods arriving in the country to ensure they are correctly declared. Anybody who has attempted to drive over the border from Germany to Basel at 8am will understand the problem.
“Secondly, the fact that exports and imports need to be recorded will mean the return to completing export and import documents and submitting them to the authorities.
“No doubt customers will expect their transport companies to help in this process which will mean we need more people and systems. This will add costs that will have to be passed on to customers in the form of higher transport prices.
“Flexibility will be impacted as customs clearance costs are broadly the same for a single pallet as a complete full load. The result will be transport prices will become driven by non-transport economics, and order quantities will need to rise to minimise the impact resulting in higher inventory and wastage costs. Again these will be passed on to the customer.”