Port of Rotterdam plans post-Brexit customs trial to discover bottlenecks

vessel loading containers at port

June 27, 2018 - Fearful of losing its status as a key trading port for the UK post-Brexit, the Dutch gateway of Rotterdam is planning trials on UK shipments this year to discover possible choke points after the UK leaves the EU at the end of March next year.

Port of Rotterdam Authority chief executive Allard Castelein told delegates at last week’s Countdown to Brexit; Are We Ready for it? conference in Rotterdam, it classified Brexit risks in much the same way as it approached the possibility of the Y2K millennium bug.

“At the time, the worst was feared, but in the end nothing happened,” he said.

“What trade and industry and the authorities should do is conduct a trial to anticipate the worst to happen if there will be no deal between the EU and the UK in regards to the Customs Union and the single market.”

The proposed trial will test customs protocols for imports and exports to the UK after Brexit, including food and veterinary inspections and Mr Castelein said he anticipates seeing larger traffic jams on A15 – the main motorway into the port – due to the extra inspections and procedures required after Brexit.

Mr Castelein said a trial in public-private partnership should be conducted in November “when it will be 90 days before Brexit will become reality”.

He added that, there appears to be little sense of urgency in local and national authorities to anticipate the implementation of Brexit, and the trial is one way to help avoid the danger of serious delays in cargo handling because of added inspection rules, import and export, as well as for customs documentation.

Port of Rotterdam Authority is now developing the format for the trial, with the Dutch ministries of economic affairs and of foreign affairs included.

Dutch junior minister for economic affairs Mona Keijzer told The Loadstar she supported a public-private trial and would talk to the Dutch cabinet minister for foreign affairs & trading relations, Sigrid Kaag, of the necessity for the proposed trial. She also backs Mr Castelein’s view on the implications of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

“There will be no such thing as a level playing field. Rotterdam will not be the most favoured port, they will be ports in France and Germany. These large EU countries will be the first to call at 10 Downing Street.”

Mr Castelein said UK traffic makes up around 8% of Rotterdam’s total trade and the port faced the risk of losing “half of this”.

On basis of various surveys, he suggested the Netherlands would likely be faced with a €10bn bill by 2030, due to Brexit. 

Source: The Loadstar