Shropshire Star

Border delays could be damaging for Shropshire economy, says expert

Border delays as a result of the Brexit saga could diminish Shropshire's attractiveness as a place to invest.

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That is the view of Business Action Group Shrewsbury chairman Paul Forrest, who raised concerns that trading arrangements still haven't been confirmed, with the deadline for the UK leaving the EU just weeks away.

Mr Forrest, who is also head of research at West Midlands Economic Forum, insists long delays at Dover, Calais and Holyhead could be damaging to Shropshire trade, in particular the dairy and agriculture sector, of which Ireland is a significant investor in the county.

"The biggest problem the economy is confronted with is the lack of clarity and uncertainty over what could and can actually happen on January 1, a central feature of the Brexit saga since the referendum vote some four-and-a-half years ago, regardless of whether you were a Brexiteer or Remainer," he said.

"With only days until the new trading arrangements come into play, no-one including the government can yet say what these will be.

"There is some talk that although an agreement may be reached, it may not be ratified by the EU Member States and the EU Parliament until December 28 – which hardly gives any time to adjust and raises questions as to whether this would be legally acceptable to the WTO.

"This also leaves scant time to accommodate whatever new trading arrangements apply to Northern Ireland."

He added: "The government already anticipates some delays at Dover-Calais (up to seven to 11 hours) and for some regional exporters/importer’s customs clearance will take place at Birmingham Airport.

"For Irish trade (Republic & Ulster) via Holyhead there will be the additional problem of clearing customs under an as yet determined regime, at an as yet to be determined place – perhaps Birmingham Airport.

"The A5/M54/M6 is a key export route and is designated by the EU as a key transcontinental route, under the EU Ten-T transport corridors, linking Dublin with Marseilles.

"The Republic & EU are already significantly ramping up direct surface sea freight routes between the Republic, Cherbourg and Rotterdam.

"The part loss of this transit trade, and indeed potentially significant delays on future transit could diminish Shropshire’s attractiveness as a place to invest – through its dairy and agricultural industries the Republic is a significant investor in Shropshire."

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