With just 65 days to go until Britain exits the European Union, the UK government has not finalized a transition plan – and, according to a new survey, neither have the majority of the UK’s ports.
The executive search firm Odgers Berndtson recently conducted a poll of 100 top decision-makers at almost all UK ports. Out of these industry leaders, only 16 percent responded that they have made “significant or practical” preparations for Brexit. 80 percent said that their ports have done little or no planning, and only 25 percent believe that they are well-positioned for Brexit. A third believe they could cope, and 40 percent either don’t know or doubt their ability to handle the change.
“This is the first real indication of what’s actually happening outside ports like Dover,” said Paul Butterworth, Odgers Berndtson’s head of maritime and shipping practice.
The British Ports Association responded to the poll results by noting the continued confusion over Britain’s next steps as Brexit approaches. “Given that there is still no certainty around our trading relationship with Europe after Brexit it is not surprising that some ports have been unable to fully prepare,” said Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the BPA.
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For years, the association has warned of the dangers of a “no-deal” Brexit with no transition period and no free-trade agreement. Last week, it said that its members remain concerned about the increasing prospect for a sudden, unmanaged exit from the EU. “We are obviously now very close to exit day and many in the ports sector will be seeking guarantees that time will found for further negotiation to avoid the UK leaving the EU on unfavourable terms,” Ballantyne said. “We would urge the Government to clarify its alternative plans immediately and do whatever is necessary to avoid a disorderly withdrawal from the EU.”