The British Ports Association has welcomed the publication of the UK Government’s temporary customs Brexit proposal, known as the “customs backstop”.
The BPA has welcomed the Government’s aim of seeking compatibility with the EU on plant and animal health standards, which could lead to potential challenges for some ports — particularly at Roll-on Roll-off ferry terminals.
Under present EU rules, plant and animal products can be subject to inspections at the border which, according to the BPA, could be problematic HGVs at ports such as Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth — requiring lorries to stop and undergo time-consuming inspections which could lead to disruption and congestion.
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BP Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, said: “This arrangement will give ports and freight operators a measure of short-term certainty.
“It is now essential that Government makes progress on our long-term customs and other border arrangements.
“There is still an urgent need for clarity on non-customs checks, which account for three-quarters of border stoppages.
“These have the potential to cause huge disruption.
“We look forward to the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill next week and hope that, whether various amendments are passed or defeated, we will have a clearer picture of what happens next.
“We urge the Government to speed up progress with the planned customs white paper to clarify our future relationship with the EU.
“We have made clear that, of the Government’s two proposed policies, the customs partnership represents almost business as usual at the border for UK-EU trade, but whatever arrangement we choose it is vital there is time for ports to adapt to avoid disruption.
“Ports need to know sooner rather than later what this relationship will look like and we will continue to work with Government behind the scenes on ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible.”