Brexit trade disruption ‘better than expected’, says Europe port chief

The head of Europe’s second-biggest transport port says any Brexit-related trade disruption has been “better than expected”.

Jacques Vandermeiren, chief govt of Port of Antwerp, stated that UK trade rose 6pc final year.

Controls on items coming out and in of the UK following have been blamed for lengthy queues at ports and disruption to produce chains.  

But Mr Vandermeiren stated: “For the United Kingdom, it’s better than what we expected… We expected much more trouble in the port.

“From time to time we see the traffic jams in Dover. The shortage of truckers and the difficulties when it comes to customer and border control. This is from time to time heavy.

“But then you have months where you don’t see any trouble at all.”

His remarks come as Antwerp merges with the Port of Zeebrugge, a transfer that can permit the 2 corporations to raised handle busy occasions of year. “We can switch in case of troubles or congestion,” he stated.

“I hope, of course, that it will completely disappear and that the situation will be under control.

“Of course, congestion, when goods come in, in an unpredictable way, in waves of, or even tsunamis of goods during a few days or a week, it always has a huge impact. And especially when you have, at the same time, the implementation of new rules and regulations.”

The Port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe, eclipsed solely by Rotterdam – which till the early twenty first century was the world’s busiest transport port when it comes to trade. 

Mr Vandermeiren’s bullish feedback concerning the ease of buying and selling with the UK got here as he warned that the results had been already being felt of plans to pressure all ferry corporations working in British waters to pay the nationwide minimal wage.

“[It is] why probably we see Ireland becoming a bigger and more important destination.”

Freight ferries are already sending items sure for the UK to Irish ports within the first occasion.

“What we see is already a shift from a direct UK destination to Ireland and via Ireland, going to the United Kingdom,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Mr Vandermeiren raised fears concerning the closure of Shanghai, the world’s largest port in response to China’s strict zero-Covid insurance policies.

“There are more than 500 ships that are waiting for entrance in the port of Shanghai, but there are a few hundreds blocked in the port of Shanghai,” he stated.

“The immediate consequence [is] an increase of prices for shipping containers. And then they will come back in the supply chain all of a sudden when the lockdown is finished.”

Global provide chains can be “disturbed” consequently, he added. “That’s what happened last year, a few times. And then it’s a mess all over the place.”

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