This week government published its post-Brexit customs union plan, which encouragingly recognised the need for an interim arrangement until the new relationship with our biggest trading partner is put in place.
The commercial vehicle and bus and coach industries are highly integrated, with both vehicles and parts moving seamlessly across borders, and so any changes to tariff and non-tariff barriers or regulatory and labour issues can only have a detrimental effect on competitiveness. Therefore, to maintain frictionless trade and ensure business only has to adjust to one change, interim arrangements must retain membership of a customs union with the EU and full participation in the single market.
Nearly two-thirds of British-built vans, trucks and buses built in Britain were exported during the first six month with almost all (94.7%) headed to the EU. The remainder went to more than 45 other countries with the iconic British bus in demand around the world. More than half (53.6%) of all bus exports were destined for Asia and 35.1% for America, while 11.0% travelled the 10,000 miles to Oceania.
While this is great news, the volumes we export outside of Europe are low compared to the number sent across the channel. The EU remains by far our biggest trading partner and so we must not put access to it at risk.