Port of Rotterdam prepares for post-Brexit exchanges with UK | international

Stena Line ferry on 21st in the port of Rotterdam.Piroshka Van de Wow / Reuters

A group of Dutch truck drivers eat a snack at a petrol station on their way to the port of Rotterdam (Netherlands), the largest in Europe, and agree that the uncertainty before End of the Brexit transition period, January 1, general. “We’re at the end of the series and ready; we’ll see how it all goes,” they repeat in the chorus roughly.

Their cars have a variety of goods, from food and flowers to dry goods destined for the industrial sector. From FridayAll carriers will be required to hold a valid export permit to move outside the community area if they want to transit into the UK. If not, they will have to turn, and rush to make it happen within 24 hours while their cars are parked in extra places that have already been arranged for it.

Bob Fant Cluster, a spokesman for Port Customs, estimates that “between the first four and six weeks of January there will be congestion in the port, mainly due to small signatures, which may not have been picked up in time.” . To cope with the new situation, the service added 900 additional employees to 1,200 already active workers. They estimate that one in four companies will not have a document. “While it may seem that small businesses are easier to control, quite a few trucks have a lot of products of all kinds and can create big bottlenecks,” he says. Then he adds, “The Brexit deal is good news. At customs we will be ready on January 1st for this new historic situation, and we urge companies to do the same.” To contain the impact of what awaits us, A good relationship between both shores will be essential.

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Heavy rain discharged these days in the port of Rotterdam, where a certain atmosphere of uncertainty reigns, and now it is more controlled thanks to the trade agreement reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union days before the end of the transition period that avoids Brexit. The port has five ferry terminals at various points, and around 10,000 trucks are transported daily to British enclaves such as Harwich, Killingholme, Immingham or Hull. From Hoek van Holland, which is part of the port complex and is also a city facing the wharf, Stena Line Shipping makes three daily trips to British ports, and Ruud Nijhout, a spokesperson for the company, explains the situation as follows: “It can be shipped in one minute, but Imagine 250 trucks waiting and transport companies without their papers. ” With a beach 3.5 kilometers long and 250 meters wide, and hugely popular in the summer, the local economy, in turn, risks too much to Brexit, and if there’s one thing nobody wants, it’s the crowded roads.

Port activities add up to 6.2% of Dutch GDP, and 40 of the 54 million tons of goods that move between the two countries annually pass through the Rotterdam docks, which is why officials are preparing for a two-year Brexit. A visit to the ship through the port – a service now canceled due to the pandemic – can take two and a half hours and reach the container area, but it covers only a fraction of its total length of 42 kilometers, and is also used to store oils, chemical or raw products.

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In 2019, the port transported a total of 469 million tons of cargo and nearly 15 million containers. From its terminals, 29,491 ships entered and departed by sea, another 100,000 arrived by river routes, and between direct and indirect jobs, they employed 385,000 people. In a complex of this size, which also receives shipments from other EU member states bound for the UK, the challenge of enforcing the customs regulations of countries that are not EU partners from January 1 has been met in two ways: a digital system for advance notification of the vehicle and its goods to reach The phrase, and a general exercise in new border controls on the ground.

Advance notification was announced by sending 80,000 letters to Dutch companies to be prepared. But above all, by a wider campaign and a specific website called in English Get ready for Brexit (Get ready for Brexit), and he explains the steps needed to get everything ready.

The general rehearsal has been translated into a series of simulations designed to analyze what would happen if trucks arrived without customs requirements in order. “On any given day, 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles leave the five terminals shipping to the UK. In recent weeks, they have increased by almost 30%, because it appears that the British are privately stocking products,” says Leon Williams, a spokesperson for finance and potential Arrival at the port authority. Usually it happens around Christmas, but now the effect of the end of the Brexit period is approaching. In the simulations, we calculated that about 250 vehicles could arrive daily without the completed forms, and since access to the ferry cannot be blocked, we have prepared 700 new parking spaces, ”he adds.

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The hurdles back and forth are here again a pain to be avoided. Williams thinks the port has prepared as well as possible, but they need the logistics and transportation sectors to cooperate because they are running a well-oiled chain now. With Brexit, “we will have to continue to work in the same way, as we do with countries outside the European Union,” he says.

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