According to a warning issued by the United Kingdom’s ferry firm Stena Line, traders could bypass Great Britain and there could be an impact on food supplies in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Ian Hampton senior executive at the global ferry operator said that there is “very little readiness” at ports and “anxiety is high”.
Stena owns three UK ports and is the largest ferry operator in the Irish sea.
In order to keep uninterrupted trading, an ambitious future relationship with the EU has been proposed by it, said the UK government.
Because of Brexit, there is a chance that the number of services to and from the UK could be reduced by Stena Line, Hampton said.
“We can’t plan on the basis of what we don’t know, so we’re very anxious about the outcome,” he said in an interview to BBC Radio 4.
He further warned that traders could sail direct to Europe and could end their usage of Great Britain to reach the rest of the EU from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
He said that there could be a significant impact on trade flows if there is complication at the Northern Ireland border because of a no-deal Brexit or if there are undue delays because of additional checks on the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the implementation of what is now come to be called a Brexit backstop.
When he was asked whether there could be fewer Stena Line sailings to and from UK ports in case of complications at borders, he replied: “this could be one of the implications”, even though the company is not in favour of shifting if routes. .
He also urged the government to clearly state the possible necessary trade declarations that would have to be made at the border in case there is a no-deal Brexit. Without such clarity it might not be possible to make food available on the supermarket shelves in time because of delays at ports, he said.
In case of a no-deal Brexit, there is expected to be a sharp increase in volumes at border customs and Hampton, who is the chief people and communications officer at Stena Line, is doubtful whether the increased volume for declarations could be handled by a new computer system to handle which is known as CDS or the one that was used prior to it.
“We’re concerned about that,” he said. “I’m not sure it can. This is a system that was not written for the purpose we’re now asking of it and I think that would [create] huge concerns.”
Over seven million passengers and two million units of freight are carried by Stena to and from the UK each year and is also the owner of three UK ports, Holyhead, Fishguard and Cairnryan.
It was engaging with ports, and senior officials had visited those owned by Stena Line, said a government spokesman.
“It is crucial to keep trade flowing when we leave the EU,” the spokesman told the media.
“That is why we are proposing a pragmatic and ambitious future economic relationship with the EU, and we remain committed to reaching agreement on the Withdrawal Agreement and future framework this autumn.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)