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Dover port boss says clock is ticking on new UK customs system

DOVER, England (Reuters) - Britain has 11 months to roll out new customs systems across the country to prevent border checks from blocking its biggest arteries of trade once it fully leaves the European Union, the head of the Port of Dover warned on Friday.

The world’s fifth largest economy leaves the biggest trading bloc at 2300 GMT on Friday, giving it an 11-month transition period to introduce the customs checks that will be needed as it breaks with Europe on rules and standards.

As Britain’s main link to the continent, the Port of Dover has been built around a one-way system that can handle more than 10,000 vehicles a day and does not have space or scope to deal with those trucks which turn up with the wrong documents.

“One of our key messages... is that if there are going to be incremental checks to those that are already conducted here at the port, that those checks should be done as far up and down the supply chain as possible,” Chief Executive Doug Bannister told Reuters.

“What that means is when the vehicle, when the cargo presents itself at the frontier, that it is ready to go. The seamless flow of traffic is what really keeps Britain supplied.”

Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Guy Faulconbridge