Global Britain cheerleaders may have to live with lasting damage to exports | Supply chain crisis

IIt came as a little surprise to anyone in the UK’s logistics industry or at its ports when the government announced its decision to delay – for the second time in just over six months – the introduction of controls at the UK. post-Brexit import on goods arriving in Great Britain. Great Britain of the EU.

New controls on food and animal products imported from the continent will now only be introduced on July 1, 2022, one year after their initially planned start. The introduction of other requirements, including the administrative formalities that accompany imports of food and animal products, has also been postponed from October 1 until next year.

Logistics companies, already suffering from a labor shortage – including heavy truck drivers – and a disruption in the supply chain, breathed a sigh of relief at the supply of more time. Particularly because the initial implementation of additional checks on New Years Day would likely have increased pressure on what is already shaping up to be a tough Christmas time for traders, fraught with stockouts and logistical challenges.

Still, there is a certain irony in the UK government’s move, given that it has turned down pre-Brexit requests from several business groups for a longer transition period, in order to allow companies to adapt. to new business requirements. Ministers blamed the pandemic for the postponements, but the required border control infrastructure – for which in some cases the government itself is responsible – is well overdue and would not have been ready on time.

The construction of internal border checkpoints, in places such as Dover and Holyhead, where there is no room for a checkpoint next to the terminal, is overseen by the UK government, as well as the administrations decentralized in Wales and Scotland. Plans for a huge clearance yard on the fields at the White Cliffs site on the outskirts of Dover have recently been dramatically degraded, while construction will not begin until next spring. Meanwhile, the request to plan the inland border facility at Holyhead on Anglesey – a key milestone for trade between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain – has yet to be approved by Welsh government ministers .

Port operators building their own border facilities have sharply criticized the government’s handling of the process of funding multi-million pound infrastructure projects, where financial allocations were only confirmed a fortnight before Brexit. Many would argue that there is no point in implementing import controls before the required facilities are ready. After all, deciding when to present them is very much in the hands of the UK.

This raises the question: are the delays in importing checks long?

Goods from the EU, including food, still meet the same standards as when Britain was in the bloc, meaning they didn’t suddenly become unsafe. That said, trade experts do not consider it a sensible long-term policy to have a relatively open border, which could be the target of smugglers.

Still, not everyone welcomed the new delay, and an industry body, the Food and Drink Federation, got away with it. He criticized the postponement, pointing out how much time and money companies have invested in preparing for new procedures, only to see them scrapped.

Meanwhile, exports to the EU from the UK have been subject to checks since January 1 of this year. UK products traveling to the EU are at risk of being stopped at customs and any paperwork errors could result in a shipment being returned. This will not happen to goods traveling the other way, which would put UK goods at a disadvantage.

UK exports of food and drink products to the EU fell in the first six months of the year, and there was also a drop in shipments of other goods, including medicines and pharmaceuticals. Some fear that the complexities of post-Brexit trade with the continent could lead companies to halt EU exports for good, a drop that is unlikely to be offset by trade with countries like Australia and China.

Brexit Minister Lord Frost announced last week his intention to revise legislation automatically transferred to the UK after Brexit, including rules on genetically modified agriculture, medical devices and vehicle standards.

Regulatory changes are touted as ‘Brexit opportunities’ by the government, but can make it even more difficult for UK businesses to sell their products to their nearest neighbors.

A lasting reduction in exports is certainly not the goal of supporters of “Global Britain”, but it is a goal they may have to accept.

The energy crisis shows that going green is also vital for businesses

The UK economy still has fossil gas flowing through its veins. The consequences of this should be laid bare this winter as the effects of the global gas crisis begin to spread to homes, businesses and industry. The past week has been a first taste of the financial pain that threatens to cripple Britain’s recovery.

Steelmakers began to suspend work during hours when energy prices hit successive record highs, and fertilizer factories employing nearly 600 workers in the north of England have shut down completely. Others are expected to follow suit, as colder weather pushes energy markets higher, preventing heavy industry from making a profit or competing with overseas competitors .

For energy-intensive industries, the fallout from record-breaking energy prices has been swift and ruthless. However, in a matter of months, this financial pain will seep into the businesses that make up the economy at large and the homes of millions of consumers.

“I hope you have candles,” commented a top market analyst. It may have been an ironic reference to the tabloid blackout clichés that took to the world in the middle of the last decade, but pundits and industry leaders have never been so serious about the risks facing the UK this winter.

In the short term, the government should follow the lead of governments across Europe which are already taking action to help struggling households. In Spain, that includes a € 3bn (£ 2.6bn) tax raid on energy companies which are set to benefit from record prices.

In the long term, the government must end its dependence on global gas markets by investing more in local low-carbon electricity and green hydrogen. Going green has never made more financial sense.

Fast fashion chains seek to slip into something more durable

The climate crisis has intensified pressure on the big players in the fashion industry to improve themselves, and last week Primark and Asos, both of which sell clothing by truck to young buyers, announced their intend to clean up their respective environmental laws.

It is not before the hour. For years MPs and environmental activists have spoken of the environmental damage caused by carbon emissions, water use, and chemical and plastic pollution from a fashion industry that produces 100 billion new clothes each. year.

Asos has now set a goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2030, when all of its branded clothing will be made from recycled or more sustainable materials; this rate is only 30% today.

By 2030, all Primark clothing will be made from recycled or more sustainable sources (today only a quarter are) and the low-cost fashion chain also promises to make it last longer.

The ambitions of retailers are to be welcomed, even if it is suspected that they are driven by the trend towards responsible investment in the City rather than by buyers’ appetite for greener clothes. Just look at Boohoo, whose customers have been too willing to condone allegations of poor working conditions at UK clothing factories when they needed wardrobe repairs.

But it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the elephant in the room. In an age when sustainability is the mantra, the fast fashion model – which forces people to keep shopping for clothes when they have a wardrobe full of stuff at home, seems dangerously anachronistic.

Asos CEO Nick Beighton said: “The responsibility for a sustainable future lies with all of us, and companies must lead the way. “

It’s true. At this point, the famous creativity of the industry must be harnessed in shaping the supply chains and innovative fabrics that will prepare it for the future.

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