“Is it busy? Are you kidding?" asks Anton Filippo of LBP. There are only 40 days left before the UK's definitive exit from the EU. And unprepared companies still regularly visit this Dutch logistics service provider. "We're not talking about fine-tuning those preparations; far from it."
LBP has been busy with Brexit for the last two years. Among other things, they introduced a special Brexit team. This team aims to make things run smoothly. They focus on fruit and vegetable export and customs clearance. They also work on digital tools and partnerships with English parties. "We've made agreements with several large companies in England. We'll arrange all their export and import customs documentation. These preparations are in the final phase. The current hustle and bustle is coming from elsewhere."
"Some businesses are only now realizing that Brexit will soon be a reality. They have yet to see how they'll supply their British clients. And what import tariffs they'll soon be paying. They also still have to apply for an EORI number. I expect more questions in the next few days. Those will come from companies that do trade with England. A few weeks ago, DLG held a webinar. There it became clear that more than 70% of companies still aren't ready for Brexit," says Anton.
You could compare the situation to a large greengrocer. And 30 minutes before closing, people arrive to do their shopping. "Just like at the store, there's a chance that something could be sold out soon. As a freight forwarder, our Brexit service is very full. That applies to our fellow forwarders too. So there's an ever-increasing chance that, soon, you won't be able to get a Brexit freight forwarder. If you don't get everything in order, it'll undoubtedly lead to delays."
Anton adds that it's questionable whether an agreement will be reached. "This week is going to be unusually nerve-wracking for these negotiations. But it may even be too late for any changes to be ratified by the parliaments. With a no-deal, more factors will come into play. WTO rules will apply to UK trade."
In short, in the Netherlands, LBP will be focusing entirely on Brexit in the coming days. "But after 1 January 2021, everything will hopefully run smoothly. Then we want to focus more on new projects. For example, we'd like to further optimize the use of our ripening facilities here in Rotterdam. And our blueberry packing lines in the Netherlands."
"We're, however, already working hard on further strengthening our position in other parts of the world. We've opened an office in Bogota, Colombia. We want to offer our services there as well. Of course, we can't forget our greatest passion - exotic fresh fruit," Anton concludes.