Business, Freight News, Sea

Brexit fine print fails to reassure agri goods traders, says ports body

[ November 22, 2018   //   ]

The British Ports Association has warned that Brexit negotiators have failed to guarantee that burdensome checks on food and agricultural products will not be introduced at some point in the future on UK/EU trade.

Commenting on a leaked draft political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, chief executive Richard Ballantyne, said the agreement appeared to offer no firm commitment to avoid new border checks on UK-EU trade flows. He said: “Whilst there is some encouraging language around minimising trade barriers and agreeing common principles, it falls short of committing [to] frictionless trade and could therefore cause potential disruption for some parts of the ports industry.”

Paragraph 24 of the declaration merely states that the UK and the EU “should treat one another as single entities as regards SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] measures”. This means that the UK and EU would need to undertake physical checks and inspections on products of plant and animal origin at the border, says BPA, adding: “These checks are time consuming and bureaucratic and could cause significant disruption at roll-on roll-off ferry ports.”

BPA said it was supportive of the aspirations of the Government’s ‘Chequers’ proposals over the summer, as it committed to an agreement that ensured frictionless trade, achieved by agreeing a common rulebook with the EU. This would eliminate the need for new cumbersome regulatory checks at ports – particularly at ro ro hubs such as Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth.