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How Germany’s Cuxhaven port is navigating Brexit

The German port of Cuxhaven has felt each twist and turn of the Brexit saga, from the shock of the referendum outcome to the interminable negotiations.

Now, with the conclusion of the transition duration that has with no trouble kept Britain in the ecu fast approaching, port supervisor Hans-Peter Zint has only one hope: “It has to at last occur.”

however Brexit will stay an remarkable challenge for the North Sea port long after Britain’s newly agreed contend with the eu kicks in on January 1.

around eighty five % of maritime freight to and from Cuxhaven comprises the united kingdom, making it one of the vital harbours worst plagued by Brexit.

the scale of the task may also be considered from Zint’s office. tons of of Mercedes and BMW vehicles from German factories are waiting to be loaded onto a ship that has just arrived from the port of Immingham, on the east coast of England.

as it docks, the ship opens its hatches and unloads Land Rovers, made in Britain, destined for the continental market, in addition to metallic ingredients for the construction industry.

The operation will take a few hours earlier than the ship returns to Immingham, some 20 hours away.

“these days we haven’t any customs formalities to carry out, however in the future they will practice to 85 % of our goods. it be uncharted territory for Cuxhaven,” Zint told AFP.

this is not the case for other big ports nearby, such as the mighty Hamburg, which are less dependent on British valued clientele and extra acquainted with buying and selling outdoor the ecu.

– local weather of uncertainty –

“it’s been a lot of instruction over the last three years,” Zint stated, exhausted through the local weather of uncertainty that has prevailed considering 2016.

“There comes a time in the event you say to yourself, ‘It has to eventually ensue.'”

The German automobile business should be one of the vital first to feel the consequences of Brexit.

the united kingdom turned into the biggest export marketplace for German car producers in 2019, with nearly 600,000 motors, or around 17 p.c of car exports, based on car trade association VDA.

Cuxhaven’s preparations have concentrated on three main strands: training for body of workers in new customs strategies; a new IT system to facilitate the transmission of customs files; and the expansion of the terminal and storage areas.

an awful lot is at stake: Britain changed into Germany’s seventh greatest trading associate in 2019, albeit two locations reduce than before the referendum.

“in keeping with our simulations, if each link within the chain does its job well, from vendor to customer, the transport times shouldn’t get from now on,” the manager said.

“however these are still best tests, and now we have to see if every little thing works definitely,” he admits.

– ‘an odd yr’ –

Heavy goods vehicles are continually flowing out and in of the port at the mouth of the Elbe River.

After a fall in pastime in spring as a result of the pandemic, Germany and Britain worked hard to get as much freight through as feasible earlier than the conclusion of the transition period.

“it’s been a strange yr,” sighs Marcus Braue, native manager for Danish maritime company DFDS, which operates two each day routes between Cuxhaven and Immingham.

“Most agencies are well prepared, but some –- for whom the British market is not significant –- are only starting to agonize about future formalities,” he spoke of.

The alternate deal agreed on December 24 has ultimately put to mattress the worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit, which may have dramatically raised the fee of items transported by means of Cuxhaven and put a stranglehold on business undertaking.

but the chance of administrative chaos and site visitors jams continues to be.

however, Cuxhaven believes it has an expertise over maritime giants equivalent to Hamburg, Calais or Rotterdam.

“here, most effective the trailers are shipped — the drivers don’t accompany their goods,” Zint said.

“If in the future we’re confronted with flawed or missing files, the trailers can also be placed on hang without blocking the drivers.”

The German port hence hopes to win new clients attempting to find much less congested routes.

Zint is even willing to bet that, “In three or 5 years, Brexit can have blown over. It will be historical heritage.”