Ports expected to run smoothly in January

Massive disruption hit our ports over a month ago; a perfect storm of Covid and staff shortages. With an insight into the post-Transition world we might soon be living in, the BPMA has lobbied Government through the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy to apply pressure to help resolve delayed shipments affecting many members.

Reports released from Dover and Calais state ‘confidence freight will keep flowing’ in the new year. From 1st January 2021, there will be new administrative requirements for businesses and hauliers moving goods between the UK and EU when the UK leaves the single market at the end of the ongoing transition period. A recent trial of the new border procedures by French customs in November presented us with 5-mile queues on the M20 in Kent; with Government telling us to prepare for up to 7,000 lorries queuing on our motorways, the plea has been to address this challenge head on.

With import costs increasing, severely impacted by the pandemic, the surge in demand and production capacity not matched, China has reported a shortage of containers on top of this. Directly affecting the industry, Felixstow and Southampton have experienced such severe problems, some ships didn’t call on the ports, opting for Rotterdam or Zeebrugge instead, causing additional freight challenges.

Commenting in the Guardian, Zoe McLernon of Logistics UK said: “Covid-19 has caused unprecedented volatility in the supply chain. Add to this the increased seasonal pressures caused by the Christmas retail market, and businesses stocking up ahead of the introduction of customs controls at the end of the transition period, and the pressure on the supply chain is immense. Clarity over our future relationship with the EU is vital and we continue to push for confirmation of a free trade agreement.”

The BPMA will continue to report on this issue.

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