Britain’s exit from the European Union saw freight traffic through British ports to the continent drop by an alarming 68% last month compared to January 2020
Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett has been warning the government for months that Brexit would lead to export problems, calling for action. In particular, he has recommended an increase in the number of customs agents to help firms with the huge amount of new paperwork.
As The Guardian reports, in addition to a 68% drop in exports, another problem has arisen. For example, 65-75% of trucks arriving from the EU were leaving empty due to companies’ reluctance to get involved with the new customs rules.
“I am deeply frustrated and annoyed that ministers have chosen not to listen to industry representatives and experts”, Burnett said.
According to the British Parliament, exports to the EU in 2019 were £294 billion [$404 billion] or 43% of all UK exports. Imports from the EU then amounted to £374 billion [$514 billion] or 52% of the total.
Trade experts believe that the collapse in trade was caused by the tragic coincidence of Brexit and the pandemic. At the same time, some trade leaders fear the worst is yet to come.
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“What really worries me is that we are in for a real storm between April and July”, – said Shane Brennan, head of the Cold Chain Federation, an association of frozen food shipping companies. – “We will have an economy looking to break out of isolation while the UK introduces a series of import controls for businesses in the EU, which may not be any more prepared than UK businesses, and perhaps even less prepared.