‘It is easier to export to Japan than Rouen’: Manufacturing firm boss says hauliers are not willing to take goods into the EU because of Brexit red tape as transport costs double
- Industry leader Zotefoams claims it is now ‘difficult’ to export ‘short hop’ to EU
- CEO David Stirling said: ‘We export globally – this is definitely not a smooth system’
- Hauliers would rather take lorries empty to EU because of delays and paperworkl
- M&S stores in France are also looking scarce, with Scotch shelves empty in Paris
- Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis among major retails to suspend exports to EU
It is now harder to export goods from Britain to France than to Japan because of Brexit, the CEO of a leading British manufacturer claimed today.
David Stirling, CEO of Zotefoams, says hauliers are choosing to cross the Channel empty because of the red tape and delays at ports caused by Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU.
Mr Stirling, whose south London based firm makes plastic foam for Nike trainers, aeroplanes and the bands in PPE visors, said today it is now ‘more difficult to ship to Rouen in northern France than to Japan’.
He said that ‘the amount of paperwork and the uncertainty’ around the rules means ‘if you miss one bit of paperwork you have to start again’, adding: ‘Trucks leaving the UK for Europe are generally unwilling to take goods out because they get delayed for so long at borders’.
It came as the Road Haulage Association said that the volume of exports from UK ports fell 68 per cent in January compared with the same time last year, but despite this the Cabinet Office said it ‘did not recognise the figures’ and claimed ‘disruption at the border has so far been minimal’.
Mr Stirling said: ‘I’d be more siding with the Road Haulage Association’s view to be honest.
Deays and red tape at Dover means that it is easier to export to Asia than to the EU, a leading business has said
David Stirling, CEO of Zotefoams (HQ pictured in Croydon), says hauliers are choosing to cross the Channel empty because of the red tape and delays at ports caused by Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU.
‘It appears to be (easier to bring things in), yes, we export a lot from South London all across Europe but we have found a significant number of hauliers are not willing to pick up goods and take the short hop to Dover. They would rather take the lorries empty, which is ridiculous’, he said.
What is the new paperwork delaying exports from Britain to the EU?
EU customs declarations and extra checks are now required on goods moving from Britain to the EU.
This demands time-consuming paperwork which is then delayed further by customs checks.
The new red tape includes:
Export health certificate – Required for every food item to prove it is safe to eat.
Customs export declarations – Describes the goods being exported.
Sanitary and phytosanitary checks – For certain live plant and animal products including root vegetables, leafy vegetables and most fruits.
‘‘The direct costs of haulage in January have doubled. It’s not easy, you need to be on your game and if you miss one bit of paperwork you have to start again. We export globally and this is definitely not a smooth system.
As well as the volume of exports falling by two thirds, the Road Haulage Association said that up to 75 per cent of lorries arriving from the continent returned empty because of a lack of goods, delays and UK companies halting trade with Europe.
But the Cabinet Office insisted it ‘did not recognise the figures’ and insisted: ‘Thanks to the hard work of hauliers and traders to prepare for change, disruption at the border has so far been minimal and freight movements are now close to normal levels, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.’
Scotch whisky has sold out in Paris and custard creams are nowhere to be found for British expats in Belgium because of Brexit red tape chaos.
Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis are among major retailers which have suspended exports to the Continent over the costly, time-consuming paperwork which is demanded by customs officials, including a new health certificate to prove food is safe for EU citizens to eat.
Twenty M&S supermarkets across France are facing supply issues, with shoppers posting photos online of empty shelves – frustrating expat buyers as well as the well-heeled Parisians who visit the supermarket to buy Scottish whisky.
In Belgium, Stonemanor, a small chain which sells British food, is out of stock for bestselling items including Digestives, Walker’s shortbread, oatcakes and scones, which are popular with expats hankering for a taste of home.
It has been serving Britons living in Belgium for 39 years but has had to shut its doors for the first time in history because it cannot fill its shelves.
Fortnum’s, which sends around 120,000 food packages each year and has a royal warrant from the Queen, has told customs it will no longer send items to the EU until it can ‘work through the implications’ of the new rules.
Export health certificates must be provided for all food items moving from Britain to the EU, although supermarkets in Northern Ireland are currently exempt.
Scotch on the rocks: Parisians visiting their local M&S this evening found a scarcity of Scottish whisky
Stonemanor, a small chain of British food stores in Belgium, is unable to source classic items including custard creams
Cornish fishermen rebrand catches to tempt UK customers after EU rules hit exports
Cornish fisherman are to cast aside the names of two of their most common catches and rebrand them in a bid to lure in more customers.
Local industry chiefs fear the names ‘spider crab’ and ‘megrim’ might be putting customers off.
In a bid to drum up more UK business in the wake of Brexit, they are looking at the successful rebrand of the popular monkfish, previously known as anglerfish, for inspiration.
Under the plans Cornish fisherman will hook the name megrim and replace it with ‘Cornish sole’. Spider crab will be rebranded as ‘Cornish king crab’.
Paul Trebilcock, chief executive of the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation (CPPO) told The Times: ‘There’s this negative thing with megrim – it’s a ‘grim’ connotation.’
Shop assistant Tracy Smith told the BBC’s Europe correspondent Gavin Lee: ‘Digestive biscuits are missing, popcorn is missing, Walker’s shortbread is missing, oatcakes are missing, various cheeses and milk.
‘We’re even down to the last scone.’
Two lorry loads of goods worth tens of thousands of pounds are waiting in the UK but have not yet cleared customs.
Store manager Ryan Pearce said: ‘Our main delivery is still unconfirmed, so if that doesn’t come in it looks like we’ll have to shut for a longer period of time until we can guarantee supplies.
‘You can’t have a supermarket running with no stock on the shelves. We’re shipping hundreds of products in one truck and each product needs a different set of paperwork to go along with it.’
British exports to the EU plummeted by 68 per cent in January due to a combination of customs paperwork and disruption caused by coronavirus, a recent survey found.
Research conducted by the Road Haulage Association found the volume of exports heading from British ports to the continent suffered a major dip last month when compared to the same period last year.
The findings have prompted the RHA to write to Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, to call for urgent action to reduce friction at the border.
The RHA is demanding Mr Gove do more to rapidly increase the number of customs agents from 10,000 to 50,000 to help firms deal with new red tape.
Industry bosses complained throughout January that the new trading arrangements with Brussels, as well as the pandemic, were hitting exporters hard.
Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the RHA, said the survey had also discovered 65 to 75 per cent of vehicles arriving from the EU were returning to the bloc empty due to a lack of goods, hold-ups in the UK and because British companies had halted exports to the continent.
Empty shelves at the Stonemanor supermarket in Brussels, which is used by many British expats
Brussels set to REJECT British pleas for a two-year Northern Ireland trade grace period to ease crisis at the border
The EU is set to rebuff attempts by the Government to delay wider rules on goods entering Northern Ireland amid chaos and anger at post-Brexit delays.
Michael Gove has asked Brussels to extend a grace period before full trade rules agreed when the UK left the EU are imposed, until 2023.
But while Ireland has said it is open to a ‘modest’ extension, EU leaders are said to have ruled that an extension of three to six months is the most they will allow, the Telegraph reported.
The Northern Ireland Protocol signed off by Boris Johnson in December avoided creating a hard border with the Republic of Ireland by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market – but this means goods from the UK mainland must be checked when they arrive in Belfast or Larne.
The measures have caused disruption to imports from the rest of the UK which have resulted in shortages of some food in supermarkets in Ulster.
Checks at Northern Irish ports on goods travelling between Britain and the province were suspended last week after anonymous threats from hardline loyalists were sent to EU and UK customs officials.
It came as a senior Cabinet minister took aim at Brussels over new rules on British shellfish exports.
The EU says British fishermen are indefinitely banned from selling live mussels, oysters, clams, cockles and scallops to member states. The shellfish can only be transported to the Continent if they have already been treated in purification plants.
But Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The truth is there is no legal barrier to this trade continuing, both on animal health grounds and on public health grounds – there is legal provision within existing EU regulations to allow such trade to continue from the UK.
‘We are just asking the EU to abide by their existing regulations and not to seek to change them.’
Mr Burnett said he found it ‘deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts’, who have consistently called for greater urgency and action from the Government.
He told The Observer that Mr Gove had not responded in writing ‘pretty much every time we have written over the last six months’.
He said: ‘He tends to get officials to start working on things. But the responses are a complete waste of time because they don’t listen to what the issues were that we raised in the first place.’
The Government has implemented a six-month grace period following Brexit, allowing the suspension of the full range of physical checks on imports until July.
Shortages facing supermarkets in Northern Ireland has led Boris Johnson to threaten to suspend parts of the Brexit deal unless the EU agrees to ease checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea.
Appearing before the European Scrutiny Committee yesterday, Cabinet Office Minister Gove criticised red tape impacting trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including a ban on plants exports if they have any soil on them.
‘It does not threaten, I believe, the integrity of the EU single market to have bulbs ordered from a wholesaler in Scotland or England which will then be planted in a garden in Belfast or Ballymena,’ he said.
‘We need to be pragmatic and practical about this, and one of the points that I have made is that if people put a particular type of integrationist theology ahead of the interests of the people of Northern Ireland they are not serving the cause of peace and progress in Northern Ireland.’
Last month, it emerged that High Street retailers and luxury brands were considering burning items returned by EU customers that are now stuck in European warehouses rather than bringing them back to the UK to avoid the cost and hassle of Brexit red tape.
EU consumers buying a coat, a pair of boots or any other product from a UK-based retailer now have to pay charges including import duties and courier or postal handling fees following Britain’s exit from the Customs Union and Single Market.
Some of the same costs and red tape also apply to British customers buying products that have been shipped from the EU – adding a third to the cost of online orders and slowing down deliveries due to extra checks at ports.
Customers in the EU are being asked to pay the extra costs by couriers when the goods reach their door, so many are rejecting them to avoid paying the bill. Figures from data firm Statista show that 30% of orders are now being returned.
Four major UK High Street fashion retailers are have begun stockpiling returns at warehouses in Belgium, Ireland and Germany. One brand will incur charges of almost £20,000 to get the returns back.
Fortnum sends around 120,000 food packages each year, including its famous hampers (pictured)
From work to pensions, passports and pets, what Britain’s new Brexit deal with the EU means for you
From work to pensions, what Brexit means for you…
UK citizens no longer have an automatic right to live and work in the EU. The ability to do so depends on each country’s immigration rules. Professional qualifications may no longer be recognised. Citizens of the UK and Ireland can continue to live, work and move freely between the two countries.
Existing EU burgundy passports remain valid but UK travellers will not be able to use fast track e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar. Britons visiting most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, should have at least six months left on their passport when travelling. It should also be less than ten years old on the day of travel.
Visits to EU countries will be limited to no more than 90 days in any 180. From January 2022, Britons will have to pay a visa-waiver for EU travel – approximately £6 per head. These will last for three years.
UK travellers will not be able to use fast track e-gates at EU airports or Eurostar. Pictured: Passengers from London arrive at Eurostar terminal in Paris
There will be a tax-free limit of £390 on goods brought back from the EU. For drink and cigarettes, the limits are 42 litres of beer; 18 litres of wine; nine litres of sparkling wine; four litres of spirits; and 200 cigarettes.
Most can continue to drive in the EU without the need to get an International Driving Permit. Those with an older paper licence may need one. Drivers taking their own car to the continent will need a ‘green card’ from their insurer. There may be a fee.
The EHIC – European Health Insurance Card – scheme is to end although cards remain valid until their expiry dates. The Government says it will bring in a similar global health insurance card.
The EHIC – European Health Insurance Card – scheme is to end
UK will no longer participate in the Erasmus scheme, which allows students to study at European institutions for a year during their degree. A global ‘Turing Scheme’ will replace it from September 2021.
The EU pet passport scheme is ending and owners will need to get an animal health certificate instead. The cost is likely to be around £100, with a new one for each trip.
Sending goods to the EU will require a customs declaration, available from the Post Office. Britons receiving goods from the EU may have to pay duty, VAT and handling fees.
Retiring to the EU
A visa and proof of financial independence will now be needed. The UK state pension will still be paid.
Its citizens may escape some rules as the province is considered part of the European Union in certain circumstances.
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