Cork port doubles customs capacity ahead of Brexit

Cork port doubles customs capacity ahead of Brexit

Cork, in the south of Ireland, is the country’s second-largest port, handling total container traffic of 228,762 TEU last year. Photo credit: Port of Cork.

The Port of Cork has doubled the capacity of its customs facilities in anticipation of a possible no-deal exit from the European Union by the United Kingdom, a move the Irish port said is likely to “substantially” increase border processing times.

An Oct. 31 deadline is fast-approaching for the UK’s Brexit, with the chances of doing so via a formal deal to unwind its participation in the EU growing slimmer by the day. Border and customs officials throughout the EU fear a no-deal Brexit could unleash a fair amount of chaos at UK border crossings.

“After close examination of historical data and several simulation studies, the port concluded that if the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union without an agreement, it is likely that more intensive checks and declarations will be required,” the Port of Cork said in a statement Tuesday. “Such an outcome is likely to substantially increase processing times at the border.”

Cork, in the south of Ireland, is the country’s second-largest port, handling total container traffic of 228,762 TEU last year. A new $89 million terminal — the Cork Container Terminal — is due to open in 2020.

Brendan Keating, the port’s chief executive, said Cork has made “extensive preparations” ahead of Brexit, with the port acting in coordination with the Irish government and EU to ensure a smooth transition.

“Larger customs facilities will ensure that we can continue to ensure prompt vessel turnarounds and efficient supply chains without extended interruption from any additional administrative formalities,” Keating said in the statement.

Still, not all stakeholders share that optimism, particularly in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

No-deal nightmare ahead of Christmas

A UK business trade group last month said a no-deal Brexit occurring just weeks before the Christmas shopping season would be a nightmare scenario for retailers and consumer goods firms. 

“Many UK trading firms will see their exporting functions tied up in red tape, having to comply with multiple sets of regulations to function for the foreseeable future,” the Confederation of British Industry said in a report. “Business preparations for the long-term in no deal have hardly begun, but when they do it will inevitably be to the detriment of the UK economy.”

An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study found that documentation and customs compliance requirements, lengthy administrative procedures, and other delays could increase the transaction costs of goods transported by between 2 to 24 percent of the value of the good.

Contact Kevin Saville at kevin.saville@ihsmarkit.com.