Industry groups have warned that the collapse of Britain’s trade with the EU will continue into the summer after the failure to recruit up to 30,000 customs agents, despite government pledges that normal service has resumed.
Delays and confusion at the UK’s ports, which have resulted in 40 per cent of trucks crossing the Channel with empty containers, threatens to put hundreds of small and medium exporters out of business and cost the government millions of pounds in lost trade tariffs.
The warnings reflect the most dramatic monthly decline in exports from the United Kingdom to the EU since records started 20 years ago.
Exports fell by almost 41 per cent as thousands of trucks failed to obtain admission to the EU, mostly following customs hold-ups due to a shortage of compliant paperwork.
Businesses also reported that a shortage of customs agents meant they were unable to respond to orders from customers based in the EU or found their goods were returned at a tremendous cost.
In January, which marked the first month since leaving the EU on terms agreed by Boris Johnson’s government, official data revealed that goods exports to the 27 member bloc dropped by a tremendous £5.6 billion, while imports decreased by about 30 per cent, or £6.6 billion.
The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, has answered critics of the UK’s failure to prepare for border checks by delaying an earlier agreed timetable for imports.
Under a new scheme, controls on animal product imports will be pushed back from April until October and checks on most other goods will only take place at UK ports from next January.
But Brussels has insisted that UK exporters comply with EU rules on imports, forcing numerous British firms to find a customs agent and a vet to confirm that animal products are safe to enter the EU.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said the deluge of exporters requiring help to fill in paperwork meant customs agents were turning business away.
He said that the delay to import checks was welcome but not a universal fix, and that they couldn’t be confident that operators would even be ready on 1 October, and that the amount of skilled customs agents and veterinarians in place across the EU to complete the relevant documentation still fell far short of what was needed.
Of course, this will last until we get rid of this Conservative party government and restore it with a progressive government with common sense, with the hope that it will be able to re-establish our relationship with the EU.
And if COVID cases begin rising again because of the mass return to school, this could again hinder the government’s plans for ending the lockdown and possibly bring about its downfall, and the Conservatives are bad for our economy and Brexit is evidence of this.
The financial news sectors have been predicting a continually slow deterioration in trade, and that’s been going on for some time now, but the real impact will be laid bare once the stockpiles run out.
The thing is, people voted out, and stupidity has its consequences, and even if it had worked out, the United Kingdom by itself is only a middle power. Maybe if Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom had become a reality, then the United Kingdom would be a great power, but still not a superpower.
So, essentially, it’s disruption until the summer, and how strange this all coincides with the end of all the COVID restrictions, but it’s all about Brexit, right?