Brexit-related trade disruption ‘better than expected’, says European port chief Business

The head of Europe’s second-largest seaport has said any Brexit-related trade disruption has been “better than expected”.

Jacques Vandermeiren, chief executive of the Port of Antwerp, said UK trade grew by 6% last year.

Checks on goods entering and leaving the UK have been blamed for long queues at ports and disruptions to supply chains.

But Mr Vandermeiren said: “For the UK it is better than we expected… We expected a lot more problems in the port.

“From time to time we see the traffic jams in Dover. The shortage of truckers and the difficulties of controlling customers and borders. Sometimes it’s heavy.

“But then you have months where you don’t see any problems.”

His remarks come as Antwerp merges with the port of Zeebrugge, a move that will allow both companies to better handle busy times of the year. “We can change if there are problems or congestion,” he said.

“I hope, of course, that it will disappear completely and that the situation will be under control.

“Of course, congestion, when goods arrive, unpredictably, in waves, even tsunamis of goods for a few days or a week, it always has a huge impact. And especially when you have, at the same time, the implementation of new rules and regulations.

The port of Antwerp is the second largest in Europe, eclipsed only by Rotterdam – which until the start of the 21st century was the busiest seaport in the world in terms of trade.

Mr Vandermeiren’s upbeat comments on the ease of trade with the UK came as he warned the effects were already being felt of plans to make all ferry companies operating in UK waters pay the wage national minimum.

“[It is] why we probably see Ireland becoming a bigger and more important destination.

Freight ferries already send goods bound for the UK to Irish ports in the first place.

“What we are seeing is already a shift from a direct destination from the UK to Ireland and via Ireland to the UK,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Vandermeiren raised concerns about the closure of Shanghai, the world’s biggest port, in response to China’s strict zero-Covid policies.

“There are more than 500 ships waiting to enter Shanghai Port, but there are a few hundred stranded in Shanghai Port,” he said.

“The immediate consequence [is] an increase in shipping container prices. And then they will all of a sudden come back into the supply chain when the lockdown is over. »

Global supply chains would be “disrupted” as a result, he added. “That’s what happened last year, a few times. And then it’s a mess everywhere.”

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This notice was published: 2022-04-22 19:37:29

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