Added inconvenience and extra costs, but it won’t be the end. This is the situation in the ports that the Swedish company Yle spoke to about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a trade agreement.
Nowadays, trade with the UK is a small part of the shipping operations that take place in the ports of Helsinki, Hanko, Turku and Coca-Cola. Despite the small volumes, these are still large sums, since the value of shipped goods is large.
For Finland’s international trade, the port of Helsinki is the main port for goods leaving and entering the country.
We have an outbound flight per week that goes directly to the UK, and in addition, there are some container ships that pass through the UK on their way, says Jukka Kaliu, head of freight traffic at the Port of Helsinki.
“A small but important part of freight traffic”
From Port Hanco, there is also one ship per week that goes directly to the UK, says Anders Ahlvik, CEO of Hankow Port.
We have 40 departures per week and one of them is to the UK. It’s an important part of our job but it’s still a big part, he says.
Ahlvik also doesn’t anticipate any major problems with operations at Hankou Port as a result of a non-contractual Brexit.
The trade is definitely not over yet. It’s a little trickier than it is today.
He expects more bureaucracy and some new red tape from the start of the year during a transition period, but he doesn’t think it will be about any insurmountable obstacles.
– It is about collecting taxes and customs duties for trade with a country outside the European Union, and we already have such shipping here at the port. Ahlvik says we have ships that go to Russia and to other countries outside the European Union.
‘Big step back’
They also have traffic from Turku to countries outside the Schengen area.
– The trade is definitely not over yet. It will be a little more difficult than it is today, says Erik Söderholm, Turku Port chief executive.
Söderholm has been involved for a long time and remembers the times before Finland became part of the European Union. He feels a lot has gotten smoother since 1995 and with Brexit he sees them taking a big step back.
Today, it doesn’t matter if you send a container to Kuopio or to London, as the same shipping note applies.
Transitional period As for the British withdrawal, it is still ongoing, but it will end on 31/12/2020.
European Union and The UK has not yet been able to agree on a trade agreement, despite many lengthy negotiations.
If one was Agreements are not reached and agreed upon before January 1, 2021, and customs duties and controls will be introduced at the border between the UK and the European Union.
– But now everything that enters or leaves the country must be customs cleared and taxes must be paid. Söderholm says it will only be more trouble, but it will be fixed.
‘Difficult to prepare for Brexit’
Although the end of the year approached, no problems were noticed in the port of Kokkola. With much still uncertain, it is difficult to prepare, says Joachim Laxapac, CEO of Rauanheimo, a port operator in the port of Kokkola.
Joachim Laxapac hopes that the Brexit negotiations will be resolved before the new year.
A man in a suit stands next to a model ship
Photo: Mårten Wallendahl / Yle
– Until the end of the year, it turns on but then it changes one time. Regardless of whether we get an agreement or not, more administrative work will be required than when trade occurs between the countries of the European Union.
Laxåback sees the inability of the European Union and the United Kingdom to agree on a trade agreement before the end of the year is a problem.
The situation without a trade agreement is a major problem for the United Kingdom and all European Union countries. He states that it is in everyone’s interest to try to reach an agreement.