Freight News, Sea

Port health could be major threat to post-Brexit supply chain

[ February 19, 2018   //   ]

The British Ports Association (BPA) has warned that without agreements on cross-border environmental health standards there could be major disruption at UK and EU ports. It follows publication of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on ‘Brexit: Trade in Food’ on 18 February (

The report suggested that changes in UK-EU trade arrangements could lead to serious disruption for food supply chains. BPA chief executive Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, said: “Perhaps one of the biggest Brexit challenges ports could face is accommodating new environmental health standards inspections at the border. As the report highlights, delays resulting from inspections at border would lead to increased costs, creating congestion and particular issues for perishable goods. Any Brexit trade deal must include an agreement to overcome the need for such inspections.”
Under present rules, animal and plant products entering the EU (including the UK) from a third country can require documentary, identity or physical inspections. These port health checks are conducted at a specially designated and designed Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), carried out by qualified veterinary officers, employed by local authorities.

Until now, food and agricultural products from the EU have not been subject to port health controls. However when the UK leaves the EU, under present rules, infrastructure for costly BIPs would be needed at a range of UK ports – and ferryports in particular often do not have suitable inspection infrastructure.
Ballantyne continued: “To require lorries to stop and undergo time consuming inspections at ports would lead to significant disruption at the border and create congestion around ports. We have had several meetings with Defra who will set the policy for port health inspections in the UK post Brexit, but for traffic leaving the UK there could still be issues at EU ports and it will be important for the Brexit negotiators not to ignore this rather technical but very important aspect of trade policy in their discussions.”

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