Why Cross Channel Trade Will Last
- 31 May 2021
Trade after Brexit
In the immediate aftermath of Brexit and the UK leaving the European Union, there was a marked fall in the trade as the new trade agreement took effect and various uncertainties were exposed. For example, the paperwork expected from haulers from both sides of the channel was extremely unclear, leading to loads being sent back, delayed, or simply refused entry on either side of the channel tunnel.
To custom check or not to custom check has also been a major issue, and the uncertainty was evident in the planning around truck stops in the UK and queues of trucks seen at the crossing, waiting for paperwork or as was evident from the news reports, just waiting for clarity and in some cases someone who could speak their language. Logistics UK expected these glitches and had been preparing for months.
The recent pandemic has also affected this trade to some extent and perhaps served to cloud the issue in that it was difficult to say why there had been a slow in cross channel trade, but there has begun to be somewhat of a recovery.
Cross channel trade recovery
One of the key areas with the legislation and change to EU trade policy has been the language. There very well may be interpreters in Brussels allowing the discussion to take place, but some of this is not filtered down to the officials on the street, so to speak, or the drivers and logistics firms that need to prepare and submit documentation, oftentimes in a different language to their own.
There has been much written as to how French translation has assisted in keeping trucks moving and the lines of communication open. But this has also highlighted the need for improved language skills and even for professional services to assist at foreign borders.
The main change that the need for complicated paperwork to be completed to trade across the channel has elicited is some delays. Businesses and drivers alike needed to be more familiar with the processes and procedures, which has taken some time. However, normal trade is expected to resume as long as mitigating factors are put in place to prevent further uncertainty and provide a sense of clarity around import and export processes. The language around these issues is simplified for those who need to deal with it on a day-to-day basis.
An improvement in the manner in which language barriers are overcome will be key to this recovery.