Diamond Logistics has seen its international trade slump by 70% due to the full Brexit border controls introduced on 1 January this year, the company has reported.
The new regulations require customs import declarations for all goods, with controls in operation at all ports and border locations.
Documentary and physical checks are required, sometimes at inland border facilities, creating additional delays.
Operators also require a supplier’s declaration proving the origin of the goods, if zero tariffs are being used that were agreed in the UK’s trade deal with the EU and have to be aware of changes to the commodity codes used to classify the goods for customs declarations.
Natalie Wainwright, Diamond Logistics group operations director, said: “Brexit continues to be an enormous deterrent of trade to the UK thanks to problems at custom control. Our international trade is down 70%. This was primarily shipments from the European Union. Small businesses – like the many e-commerce retailers we are partner to – are being hit particularly hard.”
She added: “Businesses get used to knowing what the commodity codes are for their products. If they don’t know there has been code changes, they don’t amend them, so goods are held up in customs or returned due to ‘errors’.
“Clients with special customs requirements are struggling the most. The notifications and training for SMEs on these changes are poor and often fairly last minute.
Diamond Logistics has created a bespoke platform, Despatchlab, to help customers manage the red tape which the company is continuously adapting. However Wainwright criticised the government for failing to also provide support for shippers and hauliers.
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She added: “If products aren’t caught in customs, they’re delayed. Services we expect to take 3-5 days are taking more than double this time on occasion and we are unable to follow up with anyone. “Held at customs” is what we’re told. We are advised on occasion a new certification is missing and the goods are returned to sender.
Wainwright said this is particularly problematic when the products being shipped are perishable, such as seeds.
“These spoil and cannot be used, this then creates a shortage of crop for the public to purchase and is a significant financial loss for our clients,” she explained.
Wainwright also slammed the government for failing to communicate on what other countries now require in the light of Brexit.
“Individual countries are also changing what they do and do not accept, and no one seems to know where this information is being held.
“It certainly isn’t being communicated to us, our clients or carrier partners. When we contact customs directly, they are not able to provide us with the information we need. It’s impossible for operators to plan without the full picture.”
Diamond Logistics has developed its storage capacity to help customers cope with the demands of the new regulations, offering storage and fulfilment services across the UK.
“Businesses in the European Union must consider investing in UK storage and fulfilment to store goods closer to UK customers and avoid customs control hell," Wainwright added. "Stocking locally in micro-fulfilment centres provides a real answer to businesses in the European Union."