Rotterdam port not ready for Brexit aftermath, red tape set to soar

Rotterdam port
Trade with Britain will become much more complicated. Photo: Quistnix via Wikimedia Commons

There is increasing doubt whether companies and officials in Rotterdam’s vast seaport are prepared to face the aftermath of Brexit when Britain leaves the EU, the Financieele Dagblad said on Friday.

Customs formalities will have to increase, at least 500 additional customs officers will be required and customs declarations are expected to increase by an annual five million, once Brexit becomes a reality.

Under terms of the  European Commision’s Article 50 which details the departure from the EU, Brexit must take place on or before 29 March 2019.

‘I wonder if the urgency of the situation is fully understood. In Europe, Rotterdam is the centre of world trade to and from Britain,’ Bas Janssen, director of the Rotterdam employers association Deltalinqs, told the FD.

‘Many port firms have never had anything to do with customs formalities as they export only to the EU countries.  But with Brexit, Britain soon will no longer be a part of the union,’ Janssen said.

Consultancy KPMG estimates that about 35,000 Dutch companies which trade with Britain have never had to deal with custom regulations in the past, and says their costs could increase by an extra €600m a year.

Delays in shipments at the P&O and Stena Line roll-on/roll-off terminals are inevitable because they are not equipped with customs facilities. Most goods – including perishable vegetables and fruit – between Rotterdam and Britain are carried on roro transport.

There is also a real possibility that Rotterdam will lose transport flows to and from Britain to rival ports Antwerp and Hamburg, Janssen said.

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