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The British Ports Association (BPA) has called for renewed emphasis on cross border trade facilitation following a research which showed that growing opinion that a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome is now likely.
The research, which was conducted by Maritime UK and the Institute of Directors, “underlines the growing feeling a ‘no deal’ is a real possibility which for parts of the ports industry, namely Roll-on Roll-off port operations, could be a real challenge,” Richard Ballantyne, British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, said.
Ballantyne explained that the Checkers agreement and the Brexit White Paper proposals offered a solution to the challenge of possible new customs and borders checks, however, recent comments by Michel Barnier, French politician serving as European Chief Negotiator for the UK Exiting the European Union, “has left this concept in limbo.”
BPA encouraged both sides to strike an agreement which works for ports in the UK and the EU, adding that the Government should start to seriously plan for the allocation of funding for post Brexit physical and electronic border infrastructure to ensure ports are free flowing on day one.
The implications of leaving the EU Customs Union and Single Market means that without an agreement goods travelling to and from Europe will be subject to new authorisations and other requirements. Traders will need to undertake new border processes which could be most challenging for freight on lorries travelling through UK’s ‘roll-on roll-off’ ferry port gateways, such as Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth.
For most other types of ports handling bulks and containerised cargo, the likely new customs procedures should be relatively straightforward to achieve, according to BPA. However, there are still questions around other frontier inspections such as port health standards which are mandated under EU law and without agreement will be difficult to overcome, particularly in respect of the UK’s exports through the EU.