Just how do you plan for something that is indefinable?
Companies have tried to focus on what the outcome of Brexit might mean and how it might affect them but for the past three years options have ranged from everything broadly continuing ‘as is’ to an extreme outcome with onerous barriers to trade, constant journey restrictions and customs delays.
The big issue for businesses including the shipping lines is that the three years of vacillating since the vote to leave the EU has meant that preparations have been hesitant with many firms waiting for something more tangible. In short, it has been impossible to make any choice based on exactly what is required because nobody has known what shape Brexit will take and how it will affect the movement of goods in particular.
Freightlink Solutions, as a major provider of Ferry bookings throughout Europe, has anticipated that the Brexit version we may yet face, perhaps even by default, may well be ‘hard’, meaning that ultimately customs controls will be in place. The UK joined the EU 46 years ago, which means many of today's people working in businesses having cross border trade have never experienced export and import controls, or if they have then exposure may have been only very limited; they may, therefore, have no real concept or experience of dealing with the associated documentation and administration that will become necessary should we exit the EU without a deal.
In 2018 over 11% of Ireland’s goods worth $18.7 billion were exported to the UK but food imports to the UK account for a much greater percentage, in the order of around a fifth of the total. While many see big businesses being able to cope, albeit, with some disruption, smaller businesses lacking resources and being much more dependent on trade with the UK could be very severely hit.
UK exports to Ireland by value eclipse Irish imports being over one and a half times greater, so there is a very significant interdependency of trade between the countries. Any interruption of flows would hit hard, immediately affecting the retail trade as well as other industry.
Freightlink has been actively working to provide its customers with access to customs support and clearance services post Brexit. It is a race against time to establish all the necessary registrations and to implement systems and software to be able to offer clients access to a spectrum of related import and export services.
Mark Stephens, Director at Freightlink has said;
As time passes the likelihood of a hard ‘no-deal’ Brexit looms closer and now seems more likely than ever with just three months to run until the date set for leaving the EU, we are therefore racing against the clock to be in the position of being able to offer our clients a hands-on customs clearance capability later this year. Freightlink’s customs declaration proficiency is already active and is now being further developed with EU transactions in view. This is a staged implementation process but since we do not as yet know what will actually happen on 31st October we are mindful of the need to remain flexible so that we can adjust our offering accordingly. It is critical we remain agile so that we can fine-tune our processes and procedures as we learn more about the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations.