1 August 2019
Following the UK Chancellor Sajid Javid’s announcement of £2.1bn for ‘no-deal’ Brexit preparations, Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association issued the following statement:
“Given that this Government is committed to Brexit we welcome the Chancellor’s announcement and the additional resources for preparations at the border.
We would reiterate our position that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would cause needless disruption at some of our key trading gateways. A ‘no deal’ would also send shudders, at least in the short term, through the UK economy. We therefore urge those both the new UK Government and EU leaders to continue to prioritise frictionless trade in their negotiations.
However in the current climate it is sensible to take further steps to prepare for a ‘no deal’, albeit it with less than 100 days to go. The new funding should compliment the previously announced temporary mitigations which hopefully will mean that in the short term freight is not held up entering the UK and not delayed at ports. There are similar arrangements planned at some EU ports.
The British Ports Association’s ‘Roll-on Roll-off’ port members, which include the likes of Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth, potentially face the most challenging post Brexit borders arrangements with potential new requirements on lorry traffic using these routes. Such ports are in regular dialogue with UK Government officials who at least understand and appreciate the issues.
Ideally we are keen to see a deal with the EU which maintains frictionless trade but if that is not possible we would stress that some of this funding should be used to cover any new border facilities and systems that might be required at ports. We have written to the Chancellor this week requesting that this is the case although it must be stressed that the clock is ticking.
As well as ports there could also be huge additional burdens on freight operators, hauliers and traders who could need to adapt systems and collect and process the information required for customs and frontier purposes. This part of the logistics industry certainly needs support in preparing for a ‘no deal’. It should be noted that any extra logistics costs could be passed on to traders, manufacturers and ultimately consumers which is not good for UK trade or business.
Indeed we have heard conservative estimates of additional costs for the freight industry of around £12bn each year just in agency fees if customs declarations are required for UK-EU freight. These costs also exclude investments in new systems and any burdens imposed from tariffs.
We therefore welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that financial support will be forthcoming for the freight sector.”