British ro-ro and ferry port operators meet with DExEU Minister to highlight post Brexit challenges

Today the British Ports Association’s roll-on roll-off ferry port operators met with the junior Department for Exiting the EU Minister Robin Walker MP to outline the implications and practical challenges which may arise when the UK leaves the EU. Post Brexit border requirements could see a disruption on roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) vehicle freight routes.

Such traffic could be required to provide new cross border customs and other bureaucratic documentation. This could potentially lead to major disruption at certain UK and European ro-ro ports.

Unlike the majority of other UK port operations where new requirements would not have the same impacts, the ro-ro sector, which includes ports like Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth, outlined their concerns regarding new border processes. The ro-ro sector is significant in that it is estimated to facilitate around 40% of the UK’s international trade and a sizeable proportion of the UK’s EU trade.

Commenting on the discussions, the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne said:

“The outcome of the negotiations are of course vital to a wide range of industries and the roll-on roll-off ferry port sector will be right at the forefront of whatever Brexit deal is agreed.

This part of the ports industry facilitates thousands of lorry journeys travelling between the UK and the EU each day. We were today able to highlight what the possible implications of leaving the customs union and the single market will be for the ports and operators in this part of the logistics sector. We welcomed the Minister’s attention on this area and we have been able to highlight the concerns of this particularly significant part of the ports sector.

It is vital that any Brexit deal focuses on the technical and potentially disruptive non-tariff barrier changes which could threaten the existing frictionless trade we currently enjoy at our borders.”

The BPA represents a wide variety of UK ports including almost all of the main ro-ro terminal operators and since the referendum has been engaged with officials and Ministers from across all Westminster departments on Brexit.

The Government’s Brexit position and partnership papers included options to create a new customs union relationship and others surrounding a highly streamlined border process.

For the ro-ro sector, the Government’s option to form a new customs partnership with the EU which would not see any new customs requirements between the UK and the EU, whilst allowing for new trade deals to be agreed with countries around the world, is the most manageable option for the ro-ro sector. However it remains to be seen if this option will find support with the EU and its members.

Source: British Ports Association, 14 November 2017

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