After Brexit UK shipping industry warns about "catastrophe"
With Brexit looming, the UK shipping sector fears absolute chaos if agreements are not agreed at Dover and other ports. The UK Chamber of Shipping, which represents more than 170 freight ship, tanker and cruiser liner companies, urged other European countries, such as Holland, Belgium, France and Ireland to seriously consider the implications of a "hard" Brexit.
The Chamber argued that the issue was not the prospect of tariffs being introduced if the UK quits the European customs union as these could be processed electronically. It was, rather, the question of customs checks on either side of the borders between the UK and the continent, and the UK and Ireland.
For instance, trade would be halted if Dublin Port or Holyhead in north Walesif custom checks were introduced to the 400 000 trucks that deliver to the UK every year. Similarly, the Dover port, which handles 2.6m trucks a year, could face a gridlock of up to 30 miles with custom checks' introduction.
"the Dover port, which handles 2.6m trucks a year, could face a gridlock of up to 30 miles with custom checks' introduction"
Guy Platten, the chief executive officer of the Chamber said: “It can take up to an hour for a truck now, multiply that by 8,000 a day (the number of lorries on a slow day) and you can see what happens. It is going to be an absolute disaster for the ports and for our sector as well.”
Recently, the UK government proposed two options for a post-Brexit customs deal with the EU: a “highly streamlined” system using technology to create as frictionless a border as possible, and a new customs partnership removing the need for a customs border - an arrangement that would be particularly hard to negotiate. The first option regards an electronic system that would pre-clear “trusted traders” in and out of the UK. This system is due to be introduced just two months before Brexit. It will process 255 million customs declarations a year, up from 55 million now.
The EU is Britain’s largest trading partner, accounting for 44 percent of exports and 53 percent of imports in 2016. Platten urges the idea that frictionless negotiations would benefit both sides: "We don’t want anyone to win or lose in the Brexit negotiations because we trade on both sides."