The 25 millionth truck, from the fleet operated by UPS, the express courier specialist, was carrying packages from Germany, many containing items such as clothing, shoes or electronics purchased the previous day via the Internet.
The rapid growth in e-commerce, between 20-30% per year, shows how essential the Channel Tunnel has become in the transport and logistics infrastructure linking the United Kingdom to continental Europe. Approximately one million e-commerce packages transit via the Channel Tunnel every day.
It comes less than a month after the Port of Dover announced a record year of freight traffic, highlighting the importance of efficient and barrier-free UK-European trade flows to the UK and EU economies.
The port handled 2.6 million freight vehicles in 2016, thought to be a year-on-year rise of around 3%, with freight volumes increasing by 32% in just the last four years.
The Port of Dover handles up to £119 billion of trade - around 17% of the UK’s trade in goods.
Customs and Border Arrangements
The UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has drawn up five priorities for customs and border arrangements to keep Britain trading after Brexit.
The five key issues highlighted by FTA are:
- Customs systems must be scaled up to cope with the additional 300 million declarations by 2019
- Shippers and forwarders with no experience of EU customs declarations for the past 24 years must be allowed time to familiarise themselves with the process
- Other EU countries must put in place reciprocal arrangements to prevent delays at all borders, not just those into and out of the UK
- Advanced digital customs declarations must be enabled to prevent physical checks at borders
- The process must be phased in with no ‘cliff edge’ – transport operators’ systems are already stretched and will not cope
James Hookham from the FTA said: “Hopefully, there will be 'frictionless trade' between the UK and EU, but if there isn't, or a prospect there won't be, then these are the key issues for FTA members. We already know the impact of port delays – just one hour’s delay adds £15,000 cost to the road haulage industry – so a streamlined process is vital.
"Shippers, forwarders and transport operators in the UK have been used to open borders in Europe for 24 years, so it’s going to take time to adjust; it can’t just change overnight. A smooth transition will ensure that Britain’s trade with other EU countries – both in and out – isn’t compromised," he added.
His views were shared by the Port of Dover who also warned that if significant new Customs controls were introduced on UK exports and imports as a result of the UK failing to achieve its goal of ‘frictionless’ trade, they would be most keenly felt on the cross-Channel trade.