The signing of the last-minute Brexit deal has resulted in numerous changes and much confusion. For starters, many businesses, particularly small businesses, discovered that they lacked the necessary documents, leading to massive delays. The British government has also experienced difficulties clearing goods at its borders, while its failure to adequately prepare for the new administrative procedures and workloads resulted in additional delays.
In fact, the scale of disruption expected to hit UK borders following Brexit was revealed in confidential government documents back in September 2020, which warned of queues of 7,000 lorries in Kent and two-day delays to cross into the union. At the time, only half of big businesses and 20% of small businesses had made adequate preparations for the strict application of new EU border requirements. The government further anticipated that a lack of preparation would result in only 30 to 60% of heavy goods vehicles having all the necessary documentation at the border.
Thus, Britain has recently relaxed controls aimed at preventing a backlog of trucks in southern England caused by new post-Brexit paperwork, announcing that vehicles transporting goods to the EU would no longer require a special permit to enter the port region. The government had created the Kent Access Permits, which were mandatory for EU-bound heavy goods vehicles entering Kent from January 1st. Drivers entering the country without the permit faced a $420 fine. The government believes the relaxation has allowed goods transport companies to successfully adapt to the new requirements and arrive at the border fully prepared.
Trade between the UK and the EU has undoubtedly been affected by both Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a considerable slump in trade in January, but freight volumes between the two were making recovery, citing official data showing a 46% rise in exports in February. The same data portrayed that British goods exports to the union, not including non-monetary gold and precious metals, were 41.4% lower than a year ago in January but recovered to be 12.5% lower in February. Imports fell 19.2% in January compared to the same month last year and were 11.5% lower in February.
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