The frantic activity reflects rising concerns that Britain’s departure from the trading bloc will bring chaos at its frontiers
British businesses are rushing to stockpile goods just five weeks before post-Brexit customs checks come into force on Jan. 1, driving up the cost of cross-border deliveries and cutting capacity.
The frantic activity reflects rising concerns that Britain’s final departure from the world’s biggest trading bloc will bring chaos at its frontiers as companies struggle to navigate a full customs border for the first time since 1993.
Logistics companies told Reuters they have seen a surge in demand to bring goods into the country before any potential disruption in January, and customs agents report being overwhelmed by pleas for help from traders grappling with the rules for the first time.
We have told our customers that the best thing you can do now is stock up, stockpile, and they’re bringing in as much as they can, Jon Swallow, director of Jordon Freight, told Reuters of the changing dynamic in the last two weeks. The consequence of that is there’s simply not enough capacity and the prices are going through the roof.
Swallow said the demand had pushed prices up by around 20% in recent weeks and further rises were likely in December.
Fellow freight specialist Tony Shally said his Espace Europe had seen the cost of journeys between Poland and England, and Northern France and England, rise by more than 10%.
Companies had stockpiled goods before previous Brexit deadlines but many held off this time, weakened by the COVID-19 hit to cash flow.
Along with the rush to bring in goods, companies are also having to prepare to deal with customs declarations.
Sam Harris, operations manager at provider Freight UK, said it had become a full-time job just to answer the phone to new customers. “Most know nothing about customs,” he said. Everyone is panicking. We had a farmer on the phone and he had no idea whatsoever about what needed to be done.