UK eases post-Brexit controls on vehicles taking goods to the EU

Amazon trailer trucks are seen at Cherbourg Harbour, France January 21, 2021. Brexit delays and customs checks have led to a surge in demand to ship goods in and out of Ireland direct to European ports like Cherbourg in France. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LONDON, April 20 (Reuters) - Britain on Tuesday eased controls designed to prevent a backlog of trucks in southern England caused by new post-Brexit paperwork, saying vehicles taking goods to the European Union would no longer need a special permit to enter the port region.

The government said the relaxation showed goods transport companies had adapted to the new requirements, and were arriving at the border fully prepared.

The permit system was introduced in Kent when Britain completed its exit from the EU at the end of 2020 to mitigate fears of trade being brought to a standstill due to ports being blocked by vehicles trying to travel without the correct documentation.

Before Christmas, thousands of trucks were held up at the port of Dover as some companies stockpiled ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU and after France shut its borders following an outbreak of a new coronavirus strain, prompting fears of severe disruption when the new Brexit rules came in.

The government said freight volumes between Britain and the EU were operating at normal levels and cited official data showing a 46% increase in exports in February.

The same data also showed British goods exports to the EU, excluding non-monetary gold and precious metals, were 41.4% below year-ago levels in January but partially recovered to be 12.5% below year-ago levels in February.

Imports, which dropped 19.2% on year-ago levels in January, were 11.5% below year-ago levels in February.

Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden

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