As the talks around Brexit enter a more detailed phase, Rudee Bertie turns a spotlight on a key issues for the logistics sector – frictionless border crossing.

There are still many unanswered questions about how imports and exports will be handled across borders, and much talk of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ borders.  I feel it will be essential to implement electronic border and customs control for certain origins and destinations, in order to facilitate fast border clearance.  The latest keyword is ‘frictionless’ borders, and that’s particularly important for our industry.  There needs to be no hold-up at border crossings, wherever they are.  To my mind, that means that goods will need to be pre-cleared at origin.

Obviously there will be consignments which need to be inspected and for this, it will be important to have areas at border crossings – potentially quite sizable zones – where trucks can be taken off the road to avoid holding up convoys of cargo.  There will also be an ongoing need for inland clearance depots (ICD’s) and for clearance within ERTS/ETSF areas as we currently operate, for non-EU goods.

As an example, if goods are travelling to the UK via road, the freight movement will need to be managed electronically under bond/trans-shipment, until the consignment arrives at the port or Bonded warehouse of choice in the destination country, where it will be discharged once taxes are paid. Forwarders and brokers will still need to be able to clear goods within a controlled environment (ERTS), just as consignments from outside the EU are controlled today.

Reassess and review to stay ahead

BREXIT will certainly be a new landscape, with new challenges. But we feel it offers specialist logistics businesses like ourselves, and our colleagues across the logistics industry, a potentially exciting opportunity to embrace change.

For CCL, one thing won’t change, and that’s our position as market leader in gateway logistics. Our priority for direct servicing will be the UK and we will be working with established partners in the Netherlands and potentially elsewhere too, to provide solutions for mainland EU.

As time marches on, there remain many uncertainties associated with BREXIT. We can’t yet say what’s going to happen, but what we can all do is put strategies in place for the possible outcomes, and test them thoroughly to ensure that whatever happens, we have effective, functional processes in place in good time, to protect our global clients and continue to provide the levels of service they expect.