As Brexit entered into force, the EU and the UK will need to deal with border controls by January 1st 2020, ESPO reports. Border controls will used to ensure that both countries are in line with the formalities needed concerning trade.
Accordingly, ESPO warns its members that whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations might be, customs and border checks will come into place on 1 January.
Beginning on January 1st, Europe’s ports call on all businesses which are not familiar with trade to third countries to take now the necessary preparations, in order to have the documentation needed and submit the formalities and information to the border authorities so they get clearance for their goods.
However, if they don't provide the formalities needed, their goods will be stopped in ports, potentially turning ports into bottlenecks and seriously disrupting the flexibility and reliability of long-established supply chains.
According to ESPO’s Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost
"Over the last years, Europe’s ports, in particular those with important traffic flows with the UK, have done everything they can, within their remit, to prepare for 1st January. They have invested in ICT solutions to continue seamless transport after Brexit, set up parking lots to avoid traffic jams and set up communication campaigns to inform all parties in the supply chains on the need to get ready."
Ryckbost added that the European ports are ready to mitigate as much as possible the impact of border controls on cargo fluidity both in the ports and on the access routes to the port. Yet, he alerted that despite all the preparations that are in place, they might not be enough if companies producing and shipping goods are not doing the basic, but essential custom preparations themselves.
He commented that
"We really hope we can count on the cooperation and goodwill of all customers and users of the port in the coming weeks."
Concluding, ESPO hopes that an agreement on a EU-UK future relationship is still within reach, providing for a tariff regime on imports and exports that preserves trade and economic growth, while also ensuring solid future cooperation between the EU and UK. It would finally also ease the impact of border controls on trade.