Hapag-Lloyd AG warned that UK ports would be severely impact in case of a no-deal Brexit, followed by vital ferry links to France that remained closed for a second day amid concern about a new coronavirus strain.
Despite efforts taken by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to re-open the key truck-ferry route between France and Dover, the entryway for sea containers at Felixstowe, east of London, is itself badly congested, Bloomberg reports.
Richard Ballantyne, head of the British Ports Association, stated to Bloomberg that he’s hopeful that Dover, the country’s busiest vehicle port, can be reopened to trucks.
He added that a deal would include rapid Covid-19 testing at the border.
In addition, France pushes for hauliers to take PCR tests, which give a result in between 24 and 48 hours, while the U.K. prefers lateral tests that are less accurate but take only about 15 minutes. In the meantime, Port of Dover CEO, Doug Bannister, stressed that any new measures taken will have to be clear for everyone.
Hamburg-based Hapag’s Habben Jansen stated that the extent of potential Brexit disruption is difficult to gauge, given that most containers are shipped from distant locations in Asia rather than on ships from Europe.
Container rates will remain strong at least for the first quarter, he said, adding while he expected some easing of the market going into the second quarter, visibility that far out is low.(Updates with Dover CEO comments from eighth paragraph)
Concluding, ESPO warned that by January 1st, despite a deal or a no-deal Brexit, the EU and the UK will need to deal with border controls and have their formalities and documentation ready.