Brexit looms ever closer in the future, with Government ministers still battling to strike a deal with the European Union ahead of its formal exit from the continent supergroup on January 1, 2021. Most recently, that has included the announcement of new Government-secured freight routes to ensure the continued supply of vital goods following the end of the transition period: including, crucially, medicines supply.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced the £77.6m worth of contracts with a number of major freight and ferry firms, focusing on nine routes serving eight key strategic ports: Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury.
He said: “As the transition period comes to an end, we’re putting the necessary measures in place to safeguard the smooth and successful flow of freight.
“Securing these contracts ensures that irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, lifesaving medical supplies and other critical goods can continue to enter the UK from the moment we leave the European Union.”
These contracts are set to be in place for at least six months following the end of the transition period, ensuring where possible uninterrupted flow of vital goods.
Backed by the pharmaceutical industry, the contracts will work to support much of the Brexit planning companies within the sector have done, evaluating and securing alternative supply routes and stockpiling where possible to prevent shortages or delays.
However, there is still some hesitation around the sector over the lack of a deal with the European Union, with concerns leaving in a no-deal scenario could significantly impact on medicines, including pricing, regulation and supply, until new deals can be struck.
Chief Executive of ABPI, Richard Torbett, said: “Pharmaceutical companies have been doing everything in their power to prepare for the end of the transition period amidst this global pandemic. That includes getting to grips with the new border arrangements, planning alternative supply routes and increasing stocks where possible.
“Confirmation that the Government has again made additional freight capacity available can help support these plans. We await further information about booking arrangements and how this will work in practice.
“However, ending the transition period without a deal in place will remain extremely challenging for companies. Reaching a deal, including an agreement on medicines, is in the best interest of patients across Europe.”