British ports fear being at a competitive disadvantage when full border checks for EU goods entering Great Britain commence on 1 January.
From that date, all goods entering the country from Europe will need to go through border control posts (BCPs).
The government will run some of these posts but has not revealed what it will charge for the use of them, leaving private operators in the dark about what they can charge.
CEO of the British Ports Association (BPA) Richard Ballantyne told the Loadstar the industry was frustrated.
“If ports overcharge, they will be left at a competitive disadvantage to the government facilities, and this would likely lead to certain routes being abandoned by shippers,” he said.
However, a government spokesperson said: “We will set out our approach for services at the inland border facilities in due course.”
Another concern is that some government sites may not be ready and could benefit from a relaxation of rules, which would be an additional advantage over private BCPs, said Ballantyne.
“We expect a level playing field, so should this become the reality, the rules must be relaxed for privately run BCPs to avoid freight operators prioritising the path of least resistance,” he added.
According to the Grocer, food and drink businesses are eager to confirm their post-Brexit import plans for next year, including which ports to use.
However, according to the Food and Drink Federation, there is a lack of information regarding the exact location of many BCPs and their capabilities.
Farmers Weekly reports that the date for the introduction of tighter border controls on EU imports could slip again.
A report by the National Audit Office on the government’s handling of post-Brexit trade said “much more work” needs to be done before checks are introduced.
Full import checks on EU goods have been delayed three times, with the latest date for the introduction of BCPs being set at March 2022 and other measures (including the requirement for declarations) now set between January and July 2022.
Despite government assurances that the timetable will not slip again, the NAO says it has identified areas where delivery is still at risk and contingency plans may have to be deployed.
Read our analysis of the latest timetable for GB import controls on EU goods here.