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We’re beating customs backlog, says Europa boss

[ February 25, 2021   //   ]

Europa managing director Andrew Baxter says that the first few weeks of Brexit “have been incredibly tough” but its new Delivered at Place (DAP) product is now delivering faster transit times with more reliability.

Europa Flow was launched on 1January to facilitate exports to the EU on Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) terms, removing the need for EU importers to appoint a customs broker or pay import duties, whilst zero rating the import VAT. 

Under DDP the seller takes total responsibility for the export and import formalities, transport, duties and taxes – meaning that the buyer doesn’t need to worry about managing any of those things, and making it as easy for the EU customer to buy from the UK exporter as before Brexit.  

However, Baxter said that implementation of the new product was more difficult that expected, although it is now working very effectively.

He said: “Right now export consignments are being delayed in our hub by around 24 hours whilst anticipated declarations are submitted, but beyond that they are more or less moving as normal. We will be working over the next two to three weeks to remove the delays altogether.”

Europa created a customs brokerage business known as ‘Frictionless Trade Services’ with facilities in Calais and Oostende in addition to its UK team in Dartford to manage export and import declarations and all associated work required to facilitate the flow of goods. 

Baxter said: “Despite all of our very significant preparations the reality is that we struggled to process the volume of EU import clearances that we needed to do. This created a backlog of shipments and some quite serious delays to transit times. However, I am pleased to say that that backlog is now cleared.”

He added: “The issues we faced were so multifaceted they were very hard to predict in advance. Customer errors, our staff errors, our IT errors, IT supplier errors, shipping line errors, UK, FR and BE customs errors… Nearly every shipment was being snagged by something. Frankly, it was pretty horrendous, but due to our team who have worked incredibly long hours, and by working closely with customers and suppliers we have now broken the back of these issues. 

“Our customers have been hugely supportive, and we want to thank all of them, and we appreciate it has been very challenging for everyone involved. For a period, we also struggled with space issues in our hub, but again, I am pleased to say these issues are now behind us.” 

He concluded: “We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons very quickly – allowing us to work with customers to share learning about what works, what doesn’t, the need for totally accurate documents including preference statements, invoices, certificates of conformity or ingredients lists.  In the last six weeks our own processes have evolved to adapt to those learnings and to ensure the compliant movement of shipments within the new customs environment.”  

Europa Road’s volumes are now back up to last years’ level and Baxter predicts that figures will exceed 2020 levels over the coming weeks.  

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