Friday 16 April 2021

BIFA: EU export market ‘returning to normal’

BIFA, the British International Freight Association, has cautioned that it is far too early to draw any conclusions over the impact of Brexit on the international transport sector.

“To be blunt, everything we hear is anecdotal, there is no empirical evidence. But we do see things returning to normal after the disruptions of the Christmas and New Year period,” a spokesman told Transport Operator.

However, the disruptions directly resulting from Brexit were actually less significant than other factors, he argued. These included the traditional January low levels of traffic, importers previously stockpiling in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit that didn’t happen, the Covid crisis, a lack of capacity at UK container ports and inwarehouses as vast quantities of PPE were imported, and even factory shutdowns in China.

The UK was still short of warehouse capacity, and some major freight handlers have only room to deal with one trailer-load at a time, he said.

Also export cargoes that might previously have been sent back as three individual part-loads were now being consolidated onto one trailer by European hauliers, who would sooner have one truck delayed by customs paperwork than three.

“The immediate post-Brexit period of uncertainty is over,” he said. “Most of the issues regarding export were resolved during January. What the industry now needs to prepare for is the imposition of full customs processes on imports to the UK from June.”

The spokesman said that some European exporters might be planning to drop the UK as a market. “Preparing the necessary documentation is the biggest problem, and the UK is just one market… there are 27 other nations who are still in the EU,” he pointed out.

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