16 October 2017
Ahead of this week’s EU Council summit the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, urged the UK Government and the EU to find a creative and sensible Brexit solution to the challenges facing roll-on roll-off ferry ports and operators in the logistics sector.
Commenting Mr Ballantyne suggested:
“Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it is vital that freight and passengers continues to pass smoothly through our ports. There has been much attention on agreeing a free trade deal with the EU but it is important not overlook potentially more costly disruption created from non-tariff barriers at the border.
So far, the issues of trade facilitation at the border have been well publicised but we are concerned that the recent UK-EU stalemate means that the possibility of bureaucratic customs checks and potentially disruptive port health controls is a distinct possibility for all types of port traffic with Europe.
There has been much focus on the potential disruption facing the roll-on roll-off ferry services however failure to reach agreements on environmental standards could have wider implications. This could potentially mean prescriptive port health controls for agricultural and food cargoes at all types of port with such trade with the EU.
At best without agreement these could be time-consuming, costly and disruptive border checks, at worst they could create significant infrastructure challenges for port terminals need new inspection facilities.
This is an issue facing ports both in the UK and the EU and so it will be in both sides’ interests to reach an agreement.”
As well as the challenges there are a number of potential post Brexit and opportunities and of these possibilities Mr Ballantyne also said:
“Generally, a number of UK ports are looking at opportunities such as new trade and initiatives like free trade zones after the UK leaves the EU. We are also discussing with government how the planning framework might be made to work better for ports and developers.
There is a long way to go but Brexit does provide the opportunity to make the consenting process more amenable to support growth and development at all types and sizes of port.
We have particularly welcomed recent pledges by UK Ports Minister John Hayes MP that the UK intended to overturn the recently passed EU Port Services Regulation post Brexit.”
Mr Ballantyne was speaking as the UK ports industry was gathering at the British Ports Association’s Annual Conference in Poole where Brexit would be a key topic on the agenda.