Brexit: Rotterdam CEO warns prepare for worst

Allard Castelein Allard Castelein: "I think the implications of Britain leaving the European Union is underestimated”

Rotterdam Port Authority’s president and chief executive has warned of vehicle backlogs and a need for hundreds of port-based customs officers following Brexit.

Allard Castelein said it is “unlikely” that Brexit agreements will be in place before the March 2019 deadline and pointed out the clearing of goods between the UK and Europe will be time consuming and costly, which could result in a backlog of trucks at ports which cannot be accommodated.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he explained: “I do believe we need to negotiate for the best, so frictionless as possible, because that’ll serve both countries and both sides of the Channel best.

“However, I do believe we need to prepare for the worst.”

Brexit underestimated

Mr Castelein said: “I think the implications of Britain leaving the European Union is underestimated,” adding that “several hundred customs officers” will be needed to deal with more complex administration.

Goods processed between the UK and Europe will have to be cleared in either Rotterdam or the UK, which he said will “take significant amounts of time and will incur therefore cost…”

“It might mean a huge backlog of trucks at the various ports, which at this juncture we are not used to nor can we accommodate them,” he emphasised.

“I compare the situation to the Y2K scenario. We need to prepare for an uncertain situation that will emerge the day Britain leaves the European Union.

“It is in my book a very serious issue and has my utmost attention,” he stressed.

In 2017, the Port of Rotterdam had a container throughput tonnage growth of 12.3%. Total cargo throughput rose by 1.3% and total tonnage increased from 461m to 467m.

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