Ferry companies transporting goods between the ports of Britain and Europe warned of gridlock around UK ports. The ferries bound for French ports, to transport goods to Europe, said that they would not allow British trucks to get on board after a no-deal Brexit, if they didn’t have the right paperwork. They further added that even if they take UK trucks on board, the French authorities have strictly conveyed that they would not let British carriers proceed.
The problem is bigger than it seems as many exporters of Britain don’t have the required documentation and are not even accustomed to the paperwork. To understand the scale of the problem it is pertinent to note that around 10,000 lorries travel through the UK’s Dover port everyday. The port carries 17% of the UK’s goods trade, worth over £120bn.
One of the transporter told BBC, “If you have a constant stream of lorries that don’t have the right documentation and it may take anything from 24-48 hours to get that documentation, potentially you’ve got a whole bundle of trucks and nowhere for them to go.”
Last month, BBC’s Newsnight unveiled that about two-third of UK’s significant firms haven’t applied for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, which would be required to undertake trade with the EU after a no-deal Brexit.
It is believed that once the British exporters are used to following the set procedure with the required paper work, from then onwards things can be expected to move smoothly.
The Department for Transport claimed that it is set to handle the disruption. A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “There are well-developed plans in place to manage any traffic disruption in Kent in the event of a no deal scenario, keeping the M20 open with traffic continuing to flow in both directions…The government remains focused on ensuring the UK’s smooth and orderly withdrawal from the EU.”
UK has only till 31 October of this year to exit the European Union bloc.
Jean Marc Puissessau, the president and CEO of Port Boulogne Calais, told BBC that the French ports would provide a go ahead only to the UK carriers with proper papers and permits. He said, “If hauliers don’t have documents they won’t be allowed to board. This was the rule on 29 March. Those same rules will apply on 31 October.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond told the UK exporters to be wary of France, as it could effectively press the trade issue to the UK side of the channel.
“Many of the levers are held by others — the EU 27 or private business. We can seek to persuade them but we can’t control it. For example, we can make sure that goods flow inwards through the port of Dover without any friction but we can’t control the outward flow into the port of Calais,” the chancellor told Panorama.