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Brexit may be the secret to death for some Scottish seafood companies

London — A truck heading south from the town of Oban, Scotland, loaded with lots of live crabs, lobster and shrimp, arrives at its Spanish destination within 72 hours to ensure that the cargo survives the trip. I had to do it.

However, as the UK operates new post-Brexit trade rules, the previously routine journey is now a high stakes gambling for exporter Paul Knight, managing director of PDK Shellfish.

“It’s like roulette,” Knight said, spending tens of thousands of pounds preparing Brexit when shaking off two giant trucks, but stagnation in French ports was the majority of his shipments. He added that he was afraid that it could cause. perish.

“We are as ready for Brexit as possible and are still looking at failure,” he said.

“I’m exhausted and the pressure is very strong. It’s like being on a knife blade,” he added.

Since the UK completed the final stages of Brexit on January 1st and left the European Union’s Single Market and Customs Union, the world has transformed into a continent rather than a good way for UK exporters.

Despite the trade deal between Britain and the European Union on Christmas Eve, the promise that Brexit campaign participants once left the block to free businesses from unnecessary bureaucracy is now a creepy joke. Sounds like. In the past, cargo that was moved with minimal effort required a huge amount of documents such as customs declarations and health certificates in the case of food.

Some UK companies are currently in special customs status due to their border with Ireland, a member state of the European Union, but have stopped selling to the European continent and even to Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. doing.

Complexity poses a special threat to Scottish seafood exporters. Many Scottish seafood exporters rely on the European market because they do not have similar domestic demand.

Colin Anderson and his three colleagues spent a day completing the new paperwork before dispatching live crabs loaded onto the truck. Still, I had a hard time getting the final documents needed to move more than 3 tonnes of crab to the Netherlands.

Anderson, managing director of The Crab Company (Scotland), based in Peterhead, discussed which route to choose, “I thought we were on top of that, but still all the documentation. I don’t have it. ” Entrustment.

Jimmy Buchan, CEO of the Scottish Seafood Association, an industry group, said the new system “red tape went crazy.” “If you need so many certificates and they aren’t all 100% aligned, the system will reject it, even if it’s a clerical error,” he added.

For companies that are already caught up in the coronavirus and whose demand from the hospitality industry is collapsing, the arrival of new trading rules has come as a terrible punch.

In a video posted on Twitter, Lochfyne Langoustines and Lochfyne Seafarms said inventories were stagnant at the port, making it impossible to export to mainland Europe and the company could go out of business.

“Welcome to the modern world of Brexit and the turmoil it brings,” he said. “I can’t believe we are in this position.”

Victoria Lee Pearson, sales director of Aberdeen-based smoked salmon producer John Ross Jr., said the full load of the truck was denied by French customs officials without explicit explanation. Said.

“It feels like our own government has thrown us into the cold Atlantic waters without life jackets,” she wrote in a letter to the government.

In a statement, Donna Fordyce, CEO of another industry group, Seafood Scotland, said the changes unleashed layers of administrative problems, resulting in delays, border denials and confusion.

“These companies don’t ship toilet paper or widgets,” Fordyce said. “They export the highest quality fresh seafood that has a finite window to market in the best condition.”

Buchan of the Scottish Seafood Association said customers have refused some consignments and that passed products can lose value due to longer travel times.

“If this is the secret to the death of some companies, I wouldn’t be surprised,” said Buchan. “Some have lost tens of thousands of pounds, while others have reached hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

Instead of minimal bureaucracy, exporting fish to France is now a 25-step process. All consignment products of seafood, not just customs declarations, require health certification after inspection.

At the harbor, traffic is still free to move through the channel, partly because of stagnation elsewhere.

At the heart of moving Scottish fish to the French market is DFDS, a Danish logistics company that also operates ferry services. Inspections are conducted at Larkhall near Glasgow, where seafood is transported to the harbor and then to the continent.

However, integration with government tax and customs systems has not been smooth, forcing companies to implement slower manual workarounds. At Larkhall, approval of medical certificates has been delayed, and other pending exporters have failed to send the correct documents.

“Our people who were supposed to enter the information were overwhelmed by the delay,” said Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS.

As a result, the company is currently not accepting new orders from small businesses that need to group their products into a single truck with many different paperwork.

Each cargo requires correct certification, so a problem with one of the cargoes can cause the entire truck to stop.

“We were very strict,” Karlsen said. “So I think everyone else is there to prevent you from entering the port without the paperwork. If you can’t move after doing that, it’s a much bigger operational or supply chain problem. There is a risk. “

For additional costs, the Scottish Government estimates that new delays at the border, including new customs clearance, will be £ 7 billion annually, or about $ 9.5 billion, for UK businesses.

Many Scottish exporters have decided to swing many European trucks for months as Britain untwists the system, while France is dissatisfied with enforcing new rules from day one. I will.

Fisheries issues are likely to add to London’s resentment, as the government wants the government to negotiate concessions with French authorities and polls show majority support for Scottish independence. The majority of Scottish people who voted in the 2016 Brexit referendum wanted to stay in the European Union, but more than voters in the United Kingdom and Wales.

The system could become more efficient in the coming months as the tooth-growing problem smoothes, but bureaucracy drops significantly as Britain leaves the European Union’s customs union and the single market. It’s unlikely.

Inevitably, that means exporters need millions of forms, but the government has broadened its horizons and urged companies to look for non-European markets, but post-Brexit terms and conditions. He says he warned for months to prepare for.

But for Mr. Knight from Oban, whatever his highly perishable product could be lined up behind other vehicles waiting for inspection when he arrived at a French port for hours. We cannot guarantee the preparation.

He said the French authorities are doing their best, and two of his trucks made it a success. However, they traveled during vacations when traffic was unusually low. The situation is always changing.

With few premium shellfish markets in the UK, Knight said the only way to keep his company going, even if the odds were against him, was to continue gambling in cross-channel export trade. It was.

“At some point, you tap the wrong key on your computer or the document is dated incorrectly,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they catch me. When?”

Brexit may be the secret to death for some Scottish seafood companies

Source link Brexit may be the secret to death for some Scottish seafood companies

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