Failure to ensure fluid cross-border trade post-Brexit will be “catastrophic” for UK business, the RHA warned this week.

Responding to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s claim that “frictionless trade” will not be possible after Brexit, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Any reduction in service levels through supply chains will be catastrophic and punishing for business and trade.

"Businesses need to know that they can get the goods they need, when they need them. Any uncertainty over transit times, through ports or over the Irish/UK land border must be avoided.”

FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said Barnier’s claim was a “wake up call” for negotiators. “We are pleased that logistics and trade issues have been put back on the table by the European Commission and that the practical solutions to keep Britain trading with the European Union after Brexit can now be discussed.”

He added: “The UK’s departure from the EU can be negotiated to ensure that frictionless trade can continue, provided the logistics industry is at the heart of the discussions. We urge Mr Davis to bear this in mind - and works with industry to prove Mr Barnier wrong.”

Both RHA and FTA also called for time to prepare for any new border arrangements. Burnett said that it is “essential to have clarity on what will be needed to ensure fluidity across borders and sufficient time must be given to deal with the extra work involved”.

Hookham warned: “The workload is huge. We need an immediate start on building the new customs systems for the 300 million additional declarations that will be required to be made, the learning programmes for the 180,000 businesses that will need to learn how to use them.

"We need to get equal treatment of British goods by the 27 other customs administrations across Europe and new 21st century approaches to inspecting and checking loads to avoid the need to check vehicles in our congested ports.

"Above all there must be no cliff-edge in arrangements while all this work is being undertaken. We need business as usual until the new arrangements are in place.”

It comes after previous calls to prioritise a UK trade deal.