What might happen at Hull docks in a no-deal Brexit
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 28 Aug 2018
As one of Britain's busiest ports, Hull is on the Brexit frontline.
So what will a no-deal exit from European Union mean for port-related business such as hauliers, importers, exporters and shipping companies ?
The government has now published the first in a series of guidance notes outlining what might happen if no agreement is reached before the UK's departure from the EU on March 29 next year.
They include a paper devoted to trading with the EU if there's no Brexit deal.
It starts by saying a no-deal scenario "remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome".
But, if agreement does not happen, it is clear that companies trading with Europe would face a raft of new customs and excise rules, paperwork and licensing covering customs and safety declarations.
King George Dock (Image: Peter Harbour)
This will also almost certainly come at an extra cost. Currently, goods move freely between EU member states.
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That means busineses trading with the rest of the EU do not have to make any customs import and export declarations and their trade with the EU is not subject to import duty.
No-deal would require with businesses to start making declarations on imports and exports while hauliers and shipping lines would also have to make separate safety and security declarations.
In addition, freedom of movement between the UK and the EU for imported goods currently subject to excise duty - such as alcohol, tobacco and oil - would also come to and end.
Under the current system, excise duty is automatically suspended as goods move between countries.
Port workers moving biomass pellets in the storage unit on King George Dock (Image: Peter Harbour)
But in a no-deal world, excise duty would only be suspended if goods being imported into the UK are held in designated customs warehouses.
Importers would also have face paying VAT on goods being brought into the UK.
The government's guidance suggests businesses might want to consider working with a customs broker, freight forwarder or a logistics provider to help them deal with all the new regulations.
However, it adds: "Engaging a customs broker or acquiring the appropriate software and authorisations from Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs will come at a cost."
Practically, a no-deal scenario would require a substantially beefed-up customs presence at Hull's port.
Whether that would see long delays for lorries entering or leaving the port is still anyone's guess.
Meanwhile, haulage industry experts continue to hope a no-deal exit can be averted.
A view of King George Dock from the top of one of the cranes for discharging containers (Image: Peter Harbour)
Sarah Laouadi, European policy manager at the British International Freight Association, said: "While preparing for every eventuality, including a no deal position, is a sound strategy it should not be the end game which negotiators accept.
"There are clear problems which could face our supply chain if agreements cannot be reached including customs and border arrangements, the continuity of trade agreements and vehicle permits, as well as the continuation of business access to EU workers.
"Without quick progress on these key elements, the resulting disruption could have disastrous impacts for British and EU business. A no-deal agreement should only be considered once every opportunity to reach a deal has been explored."
In a statement, the Road Haulage Association said the government guidance was "nothing new".
"The RHA has met with government ministers on many occasions to discuss the needs of UK transport operators and has stressed that the only way to maintain economic links on both sides is to continue with the process of free-flowing borders.
"If that’s not going to be the case, then a no-deal Brexit will be little more than a nail in the coffin of the industry responsible for moving 98 per cent of the UK economy."