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After a year of resilient trading in 2017, the UK’s logistics industry expects continued success in 2018 despite the uncertainties posed by Brexit and continued economic instability, according to a new report from the Freight Transport Association (FTA). 

The FTA Logistics Report 2018 polled the opinions of around 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally, and found cause for optimism among respondents for the coming year of trading after consistent performances from businesses moving goods by all modes of transport.

“Respondents to this year’s Report were generally positive about their 2017 trading performance and the prospects for their respective sectors,” said Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s director of UK Policy.

“With positive growth in domestic and international road freight, as well as the majority of air freight import/export business, sea freight movements and a rebound in rail intermodal services, there is much for the logistics industry to be encouraged by.”

However, with inflationary pressures at home and abroad and the uncertainty of trading relationships post-Brexit, many operators remain far from confident about their future business prospects.

“With logistics underpinning the British economy at all levels, both domestically and overseas, it is crucial the sector is boosted by concrete plans for the UK’s future relationship with Europe, which will keep Britain trading effectively as the country moves towards the challenges of Brexit,” de Jong added.

According to the Report, domestic and international road freight performed positively during 2017. But respondents surveyed for the report cautioned the current positivity surrounding logistics could be lost without firm plans for the UK’s future trading relationships with Europe, which will have an impact internationally and domestically.

Continued inflationary pressure could also have a significant effect on investment – 14 per cent of those questioned have already curtailed investment decisions since the vote to leave the EU – as well as on consumer spending, which will have a knock-on impact on the logistics sector.

There are also concerns surrounding future employees for a sector which relies heavily on EU workers, with 35 per cent of respondents highlighting a restriction on worker movement would have a detrimental effect on their businesses.