A hard Brexit on the 12th of April was avoided thanks to the extension granted by the European Union. However, the idea of a hard Brexit has not been discarded yet. 31 October 2019 is the new deadline.
As it is still unclear what will happen in the coming months, it remains of vital importance for the port and the port companies to retain the focus on the preparations for a hard Brexit.
The port of Zeebrugge is a prominent port for cargoes to and from the United Kingdom. The objective is to remain a hub of excellence for the UK. In this respect, the Zeebrugge port authority takes various initiatives in cooperation with the private port community, the port companies and the decision makers on the Flemish, federal and European levels.
On the British side Zeebrugge is in close contact with the British customs and the British ports. The port authority also cooperates with several public authorities, such as customs, in order to become fully Brexit proof. The rapid and fluent transit of international and European goods to the UK, via Zeebrugge, is to be guaranteed after the Brexit.
The port of Zeebrugge has maintained trade relations with the United Kingdom since the 12th century against the background of the Hanseatic League. Until today we have been upholding this tradition with the UK, having evolved into a modern intermodal hub and gateway for both the European and British markets.
Main trading partner
With 17 million tons of freight transhipment, mainly roro and container loads, the United Kingdom is Zeebrugge’s main trading partner. No less than 70 liner services per week are linking Zeebrugge and hence the European mainland, with numerous British ports on the eastcoast and Ireland. The hub function is our competitive advantage. Our core business consists of providing tailor-made solutions for all the cargo traffic to the UK. Zeebrugge is a bridgehead for just-in-time supplies into the UK markets. The logistic chains have been established and will remain available. This also applies for new cars. Being the largest car handling port in the world with a total annual handling volume of 2.8 million new vehicles, we supply the UK markets with no less than 1 million new cars and high&heavy loads.
Unaccompanied freight and state-of-the-art border infrastructure
The trailers transiting in Zeebrugge are unaccompanied, which should represent a gain in time with regard to future border controls, since there is no driver involved.
Also in terms of infrastructure, the port of Zeebrugge prepares itself. The port accommodates the brand new Border Inspection Post, a new infrastructure which houses the Belgian customs, as well as the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain. Sufficient cold store facilities, additional parking places for trucks in and around the port and trained staff members are available to cope with possible hold-up of cargoes. In addition, a contingency plan with regard to extra parking places, is been drawn up in order to safeguard the constant accessibility of the port and the port companies, as well as the mobility of the cargo flows.
One of Zeebrugge’s main focuses is to limit the transit times of the UK cargo flows through the efficient handling of formalities and further digitization of Brexit-related administration. Coordinated, transparent and efficient planning of controls by different administrations is crucial. In this respect, the port of Zeebrugge, in particular the port authority and the private port community, have developed the dataplatform RX/SeaPort. Via one unique connection, this datasharing platform allows to securely interchange data and information with all the parties involved, in order to avoid interruption of the physical goods flows because of Brexit-related administration.
Close cooperation with customs
A Brexit info point was opened in the Border Inspection Post for all parties that have questions with regard to customs formalities after the Brexit. There are 4 customs officials present in the info point to give individual guidance on the necessary measures to be taken concerning the Brexit.
To ensure the fluent logistics chains between Belgium and the UK, extra customs staff members are being trained and will be added to the existing staff in Zeebrugge, and other regions, to cope with the extra workload that the Brexit will entail for customs administration.
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Brexit Impact Scan (Dutch only)
Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) offers specific guidance to companies focusing on the UK. (Dutch only)
Have a look at the website of FAVV.
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