Export volume from British ports to the EU fell 68% in January compared to the same month the previous year, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
The RHA reported the results of a survey of its international members in a letter to cabinet minister Michael Gove.
In the letter, chief executive Richard Burnett remarked to Gove that the RHA had repeatedly warned ministers of the problems they would face, including an urgent need for more customs agents, which the RHA says is still only a fifth of that which is required to deal with all the paperwork.
Burnett also reported to The Observer that 65-75% of vehicles arriving from the EU were returning without cargo. This was due to delays on the UK side and UK companies halting exports to the EU, either temporarily or permanently.
Credit: Marcus Wöckel
“I find it deeply annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” Burnett said. He complained of a lack of a response from Gove and his officials in recent months.
The 68% figure was backed by Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association, who described it as “broadly in line” with his own findings. Ballantyne also raised the spectre of more problems from 1st July, when full import checks on EU goods would be required.
The government responded that it did not recognise the figures provided by the RHA.