With a no-deal Brexit increasingly likely, Reuters reports that procurement professionals across the UK are making emergency supply chain preparations. The UK’s Department of Transport has awarded three freight contracts worth £108 million in a bid to ease congestion on the English Channel in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Three shipping companies – Brittany Ferries, DFDS, and Seaborne Freight – are poised to deploy vessels to the ports of Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Poole to assist in the cross-channel transportation of backlogged cargo.
With approximately 16,000 trucks crossing Dover and Calais every day, a no-deal Brexit is likely to seriously hamper the efficiency of these movements. Each truck is likely to be subject to customs checks, delaying their progress through ports, and resulting in congestion there as well as on neighbouring roads. In an emailed press release, the European Shippers Council (ESC) said that there is now no clear picture on what will happen after 29 March this year, adding: “If the present withdrawal agreement does not pass the vote [in the House of Commons in mid-January], a cliff-edge scenario will be the most likely one. Preparation after this date will be nerve-wracking.”
The British Government has instructed all its agencies to plan urgently for a no-deal Brexit, according to the Reuters report, hence the Department of Transport’s recent emergency plans with the three shipping giants. In March 2018, the European Sea Ports Organisation warned that the no-deal option risked turning ports into bottlenecks and would “disrupt long-established supply chains.” Procurement professionals engaged in supply relationship management will be aware that the supply chain infrastructure enabling trade has already reached capacity.
The ESC has warned that warehouse space is already saturated, with no room for emergency stock. It concludes that the only viable option at this point is an orderly move to a transitional period, allowing governments and companies to finalise their supply chain arrangements by December 2020.