On Wednesday, 25 September, Freight Line Europe (FLE) and CSO Fresh organized a Brexit meeting in the Netherlands. "We have to assume the UK will leave the EU at some point. We are, therefore, very pleased with the large turnout here, in Ridderkerk," says John de Boom of FLE. "Our goal is to make everyone aware that good, timely preparation for Brexit is not only necessary. It also offers opportunities."
"Three of the five presentations was about components that do not form part of our chains at present. However, post-Brexit, we could become co-dependent. These extra steps in the process make the automation of correct data sharing a must. This is needed to speed up these processes, and prevent them from standing still. Cooperation between all the involved parties is, therefore, of utmost importance."
John de Boom, Chris-Hans van der Hout, and Viktor Vijverberg of FLE
Soon, for the first time since 1993, UK-bound ferries will again have to deal with customs formalities. Ronald Hoekstra of CSI-Fresh and his British counterpart, Andy Tomlinson of RBF Cargo Care, gave the audience food for thought. "Currently, 45% of Dutch businesses do not seem to be prepared," Ronald informed the audience. "What have you done to be able to continue exporting to the UK after Brexit? What are the consequences of a no-deal Brexit? If you have questions, please ask them. We would be happy to help." His address then also concluded with, "Prepare yourself as well as you can while you still can."
Hayo Andreae of the Dutch Quality Control Bureau (KCB) saw the conference as a wake-up-call for Dutch businesses. "Phytosanitary and quality controls will shortly be the norm for products going to the United Kingdom. A plant passport or a cites declaration will become compulsory for some plant sorts. This requirement will also count for leaf oranges or mandarins."
"And what about those wooden pallets you use? These will have to comply with ISPM-15 conditions. They will have to carry a quality mark. These pallets are currently scarce on the market."
Hayo Andreae (KCB) and Johan Hagoort (CSI-Fresh)
Meanwhile, ports are also bracing themselves for Brexit. The Portbase digital infrastructure must prevent congestion in the harbours. "It is essential for companies to report to customs if they have not already done so," says Portbase's Diederik van Daal. “It is also important that there are good agreements between parties in the chain."
"They must know who is going to make the import and export cargo declaration at customs. Will this be the forwarder, the carrier, or the exporter? Electronic cargo prenotification will have to be done via Portbase. This is to prevent queuing at the terminal. Here too, it must be agreed who will do this. Before departure, the carrier must be able to check whether all the information is known to port authorities."
Andy Tomlinson (RBF), Mark Verhoef (FLE), and Diederik van Daal (Portbase)
Nell Eichhorn of the Stena Line again emphasized how important all these preparations are when it comes to Brexit. "Stena Line will be the party who will allow or refuse a cargo unit to be loaded or offloaded. This action may occur at the start or end of the cargo unit's journey. The cargo unit, may or may not be accompanied.
"This will be done in good collaboration with, among others, PortBase. So, please ensure that the MED, ENS, and MID notices are done on time. The Stena Line booking reference must also be in order."
After the presentations, there was still time for a cocktail party. The next crucial, fast-approaching, date - 19 October - in the run-up to Brexit day - 31 October - was also discussed.
Johan Hagoort / Ronald Hoekstra
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