Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Port Authority CEO Expresses His View of the Future as UK Prepares to Leave the EU

Don't Panic About Brexit Comes the Message from Sweden
Shipping News Feature

SWEDEN – UK – EUROPE – One of the things which is most interesting for Britons as the UK heads out of the European door is how the country's European neighbours view the future following the British departure. This week, Elvir Dzanic, CEO of the Gothenburg Port Authority gives us a personal view of what may lay ahead.

It is at the Port of Gothenburg Ro-Ro Terminal, GRT, where the Brexit issue is most acute. The terminal has daily movements to and from the UK. Dzanic says although the road leading to this point has been long and at times rocky, the date of the UK's withdrawal from the EU is approaching relentlessly. A 'soft' or 'hard' Brexit does not matter, the UK will be classed as a ‘third country’ in relation to EU countries such as Sweden, as it will be outside the single market.

No note of a last minute deal there then. Assuming that to be correct, as it seems most likely, in its dealings with the UK, the EU will accordingly apply third-country regulations in areas such as tariffs, customs controls, and verification of compliance with EU rules governing the nature and quality of goods, doubtless with a proliferation of red tape slowing the process. Dzanic observes:

“The [EU] exporter must ensure its goods are ready for clearance through customs before they reach the Port of Gothenburg and our terminals. That is the message we are sending out to the market. If an exporter does not have everything in place, they won’t get in to the port. The same principle applies to imports from the UK, goods that are not ready for clearance before they are shipped to Sweden risk getting stuck at our terminals.”

The fact that Brexit will eventually materialise will come as no surprise to anyone, least so among those who transport goods to and from the United Kingdom. But Elvir Dzanic appreciates that it could still be difficult for some companies to take the right measures in time.

“My view is that the major players are well prepared. It is generally the smaller enterprises that do not have the administrative capacity of the large freight owners and freight forwarders. Having said that, I still stand by what I said earlier. Do not turn up at the Port of Gothenburg without having all your customs documents in order.

“We don’t believe there will be queues at the terminal gates. If there are problems, they will occur earlier in the system, at the main Port Entry gate for example, where we need to be prepared. As a contingency, we have identified a number of areas in the vicinity of the port where trucks may need to be temporarily parked pending clearance.

“I don’t think [panic] will benefit anyone. Obviously nobody knows exactly how things will be until it happens, but from experience I know that the logistics industry is the master of the ‘quick fix’ when faced with a new situation. When new customs rules came into effect ten years ago, there was a great deal of concern, but the industry adapted rapidly then and I’m sure it will be the same now.”

Dzanic, who was appointed in March this year oversees the activities of the largest port in the Nordic region with 30% of Swedish foreign trade as well as 50% of container traffic passing through the port which handles a complete range of multimodal traffic, from freight and passenger ferries and oil terminal facilities with deep water container berths and 25 rail shuttles daily.