The government has confirmed that around 50,000 workers will need to be recruited to fill out customs paperwork for trade with the EU after Brexit in a Canada-style deal.

Pressed by Labour MP Justin Madders over whether it was feasible to recruit and train an estimated 50,000 new customs officers in less than six months, cabinet office minister Michael Gove said: “Yes, it is and the government stand behind that.”

The FTA said negotiations with the EU over a future trading relationship had to prioritise the needs of the logistics industry – and that included minimising border disruption.

Elizabeth de Jong, FTA policy director, said: “It costs more than £1 a minute to operate an HGV – so lengthy delays at the border could add significant costs to the price of goods, driving up prices and fuelling inflation.

“Trade facilitation measures are needed to reduce the impact of additional border requirements and red tape and help reduce the threat of delays and added costs.”

She added: “There is a substantial customs agent shortage and member states and the UK government need to urgently address this by giving support, guidance and funding.

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“Sufficient co-funded training should be provided for those new to completing customs declarations, as well as for those handling a significant increase in declarations and other new administrative requirements.”

The RHA has urged the government to provide clarity and prepare businesses for new customs procedures from 1 January 2021: “We need HMRC to clearly define the process so that we can understand how many customs agents will be required to support traders and hauliers,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.

The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) estimates that there will be more than 200m additional UK customs declarations and that there is now little doubt that changes in the way the country trades with the EU will have a significant impact on supply chains: “There will certainly be interruption of flow, which, to maintain equivalent lead times, is likely to be mitigated by companies holding additional inventory and accordingly demanding additional warehousing space,” said Peter Ward, UKWA chief executive.

“This is happening at a time when the market is almost at capacity as the industry recalibrates to accommodate the massive shift from high street retailing to online and e-commerce fulfilment.”