The newly appointed British ambassador Martin Shearman visited the Port of Antwerp, figuring Brexit high on the agenda. According to the Port, the uncertainty over Brexit continues, and there will be radical changes in the transport of goods between the EU and the UK. The Port of Antwerp also expects a modal shift from ferry to container transport by short-sea shipping.
Goods entering or leaving the EU by ferry ports will face more checks and red tape when Brexit comes into force. It will also mean more inspections of people, goods and documents, leading to higher costs, congestion and longer transit times for ferry transport, the Port of Antwerp said.
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Specifically, the Port expects that accompanied trucks will increasingly be replaced by short-sea container transport, which refers to unaccompanied goods loaded on board by crane for non-oceanic crossings.
For this reason, the Port is preparing for further expansion of short-sea links with the UK, offering at least part of the solution for the consequences of Brexit.
With approximately 17 million tonnes of freight the UK was the second-largest trading partner for Port of Antwerp in 2018. The main freight categories are chemicals, oil products and fast-moving consumer goods, like foodstuffs, toiletries and cosmetics.
Existing and new shortsea services between Antwerp and the British Isles will undoubtedly gain in importance in the run-up to Brexit and after 31 October 2019, building on the present links with nine UK and Irish ports
the Port said.
What is more, shortly after the British Brexit referendum in 2016, Port of Antwerp’s taskforce of ‘Brexperts’ has collaborated with different stakeholders. Including Belgian Customs, the Belgian Food Safety Agency and key port community and business representatives to address any negative consequences for the port.
Brexit creates not only challenges but also opportunities for trade between the UK and Ireland on the one hand and the European continent on the other. Having more shortsea solutions in the logistics chain will not only mean greater reliability, it will also diminish our dependence on trucks for ‘last mile’ transport, as well as reducing costs and CO2 emissions
stated Justin Atkin, the Port of Antwerp representative in the UK and Ireland.
Moreover, the customs authorities for their part are also getting ready, as they have hired an additional 386 full-time employees in order to deal with Brexit.