Take that, Brussels! UK to launch ferry trade route around Europe to bypass hated EU rules
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The proposed ferry service would travel between Poole in Dorset and Tanger Med near Tangier. The “roll-on, roll-off” service would cut the journey time between Britain and Morocco in half from six days to just three.
Currently, seaborne trade between the two countries has to make two sea crossings, from the UK to Spain then Spain to Morocco.
United Seaways, the company behind the plan, hopes to begin trading in the next few months.
The news was first reported by The Grocer magazine before being confirmed by authorities in Poole.
There are concerns trade with the EU will be disrupted when additional checks on trade are introduced in July.
Speaking to The Grocer Nigel Jenney, CEO of the Produce Consortium, warned this could “cause a level of disruption the industry hasn’t seen for generations”.
In October 2019 Britain signed a new trade deal with Morocco providing continued access to its market.
Trade between Morocco and the UK was valued at around £2.5bn in 2018.
The hope is this will help compensate for any trade lost when new checks with the EU come into place in July.
Mr Jenney added: “Any solution that makes imports more effective, or eases trading with alternative countries, may well be a great opportunity for helping the UK source fresh produce from around the world.”
“I anticipate a strong demand for this new direct roro [roll-on/roll-off] service.
“The route offers a rapid service and avoids the additional tariff complications of trading via the EU since the beginning of the year.
“At this challenging time, it’s very welcome alternative to the increasing complexity of trading with Europe.”
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Whilst Britain formally left the EU in January 2020 it remained closely entwined with the bloc until December 31 2020.
At this point the UK left the Brexit transition period, meaning it is no longer required to implement rules made in Brussels or pay into the EU budget.
However Northern Ireland remains attached to the European single market to avoid a border being required with the Republic of Ireland.
As a result, there are now some checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK infuriating unionists.
In a statement announcing its plans, United Seaways noted the new route will be useful in the post-Brexit landscape.
It said: “Our aim is to support businesses with post-Brexit, supply chain challenges and opportunities.
“This service will create a sustainable and environmental alternative when launched in the coming months.
“The speed and efficiency of the vessel ensures a longer shelf life for fresh products whilst reducing road congestion, tolls and additional import procedures that have arisen since Brexit.”
On Wednesday Britain announced it is unilaterally extending the grace period for some checks on trade with Northern Ireland.
In response, referencing the UK, Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said the EU is “negotiating with a partner it simply can’t trust”.
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