Stena Line has blamed a 30% drop in traffic at Welsh ports of Holyhead and Fishguard on Brexit.
Boss of the Swedish shipping line's UK ports, Ian Davies, said the new trading relationship with the EU had caught the customers of the haulage industry unawares.
ITV reports that the carrier saw a 50-60% drop in freight in January, which has levelled off at about 30% down on pre-pandemic traffic for 2021.
“Within this 30% we’ve seen some slight peaks and troughs which we put down to the Covid pandemic. But I think now we’re probably in a position to say yes, this is really the effect post-Brexit of where we are and slight changes in the way that people are moving freight.”
He added: “I would say it caught quite a few, not so much in the haulage industry, but their customers unaware.”
Stena has said it has a long-term commitment to the ports and expects to see the situation improve, reports the Standard. The three Welsh ports, including Pembroke, provide 5,000 jobs.
Goods moving from Ireland and Northern Ireland to Great Britain are temporarily unaffected by new rules for imports coming from the EU that were introduced from 1 January 2022.
Existing current customs arrangements remain in place for these goods movements while Britain and the EU continue to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol.
As previously covered in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update, goods shipped from the Republic of Ireland, which have in the past used the so-called ‘land bridge’ via Welsh ports to reach the Continent through Britain, increasingly sail direct.
The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has found a 50% increase in goods being carried over some of the 32 new ferry routes that have sprung up to connect ROI to the continent.
Concern about possible delays over customs checks in Dover and Calais has helped fuel the diversion of trade to routes from the ROI direct to the continent.
Freight volumes between Dublin and Holyhead were down 19% in the first three-quarters of 2021 and down by 30% on the two routes from Rosslare to Pembroke and Fishguard.