Welcoming the Brexit agreement between the UK and EU, the British Ports Association’s (BPA) Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, called for focus on overcoming border disruption and the introduction of non-tariff barriers as part of any free trade negotiations.
The much publicised agreement allows the negotiators to move to the second phase of the Brexit discussions which includes trade negotiations. Commenting on the developments, Mr Ballantyne said:
"The announcement is reassuring for ports and we welcome the move to the next phase of the Brexit negotiations. There is a still a long way to go of course and we remain concerned that new customs requirements could cause particular challenges for roll-on roll-off ferry ports which handle tens of thousands HGVs travelling between the UK and the EU each day. We await the new stages with much interest. We would encourage both sides to explore options that ensure the cross border solution for the Irish land border is replicated elsewhere in the UK, this would enable trade with Europe to pass as smoothly as possible through our ports."
The British Ports Association is not a political organisation and took no side in the referendum, however ports have been at the forefront of discussions when policy makers in the UK and the EU have been examining the potential consequences of leaving the EU. The impacts of leaving the EU Customs Union and Single Market could be substantial. The prospect of customs and bureaucratic checks at the border could potentially create congestion and delays at certain ports adding costs for traders, manufacturers and consumers. Today’s agreement means that the UK is moving towards an agreement which could limit but not totally rule out these impacts.