Regional ports fear unfair Brexit advantage for Channel rivals

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The government plans to introduce Brexit post-EU customs inspections later this year, at risk of compromising the commercial “fair competition” of UK provincial ports.

Charles Hammond, chair of the UK Major Ports Group, which includes 40 large ports, said government funding for customs parks risks unfairly distorting the market in favor of ports in the English Channel that serve “short straits.” Said.

The inland area will be used to carry out physical inspections of imports from the EU, scheduled to begin in July.

Hammond’s intervention was made because the government promised to announce a billing structure for inland border facilities, including the main site in Sevington, Kent. This sets a benchmark for charges imposed by other UK ports.

The government has promised £ 470 million in post-Brexit port infrastructure, of which £ 200 million will be distributed to 41 ports in the UK through the Port Infrastructure Fund to build border inspection facilities needed for new customs management. rice field.

However, the Dover Port and the Channel Tunnel site in Folkestone lacked physical space on the site, so there was no need to build border infrastructure.

Instead, trucks arriving at these “roll-on, roll-off” channel ports are sent inland for inspection at other UK government-operated sites such as Sevington and Dover White Cliffs. Hammond argued that this would provide a potentially unfair advantage over the ports that funded their own infrastructure.

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“Government knows that operating costs need to be recovered, so we need to come up with a pricing model that creates a fair competition,” Hammond said. He insisted that he needed to find a way. ..

“To be fair, in the market, these costs [ports] It should be passed to the customer, the freight carrier, or whatever it is, to the profitable party to decide whether to recover those costs. “

Tim Riadon, head of the EU exit at Dover Port, rejected the idea that Dover was a beneficiary of a customs park built by the British government, or that authorities would return the fee to the port operator.

“The choice is how the government chooses to recover the costs of the Sevington project,” he added. “We can charge a user fee to the importer who brought the goods into Sevington, but neither is the” user “of the site, so we do not charge the ferry company or Dover Port. “

Major port groups argued that failure to set competitive pricing in Sevington would reduce the benefits of Brexit to ports in the region. Expected to increase traffic EU exporters have shipped more unaccompanied luggage to the UK to avoid border bureaucracy.

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“The Brexit transition means trade friction, and members are committed to working with the government, but the trade-off is to expect trade to spread to the east and west coasts. [of Britain], “He added.

Major port groups estimate that new border facilities at existing ports were funded by the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund in only two-thirds, with operators totaling £ 100 million to fill the shortfall. I was able to find.

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Richard Ballantyne, CEO of the British Port Association, an industry group, said many operators are concerned that new tariffs will give them a competitive advantage on certain routes.

“If prices are set improperly, other routes can be at a disadvantage,” he added. “The main problem is that government prices haven’t been announced yet, and the port wants to discuss with its customers what the new regime will look like.”

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People close to the problem said internal discussions on the pricing mechanism had been ongoing in Whitehall for several months with the help of private consultants, but no decision had been made.

However, British officials Told MP Last month, port operators could expect the government to set up inland tariffs “early in the New Year.”

Emma Churchill, head of the Cabinet Office’s Border and Protocol Providing Group, said it was a “commercial decision” for port operators to set their own prices, but waited for the government to announce the prices. He said he understood why he was.

“We realize they’re pretty dissatisfied that we haven’t set it up yet,” she said.

Regional ports fear unfair Brexit advantage for Channel rivals Source link Regional ports fear unfair Brexit advantage for Channel rivals