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Firms Hit by New Brexit Red Tape as IT System Stops Trucks

U.K. traders are falling foul of a new IT system policing goods crossing the English Channel, as companies grapple with a fresh wave of post-Brexit red tape.

Imports from the EU are required to be processed through the Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) as of Jan. 1, however haulers have reported issues such as shipments not loading on the system and reference codes not being accepted. Honda Motor Co., a Japanese automaker, is among companies whose cargoes have been hit so far.

We’ve got a whole bunch of lorries that aren’t clearing because something isn’t working, and it’s not incompetence on our part, said Steve Cock, director of customs consultancy at The Customs House, who has had freight waiting to enter Britain since New Year’s Day. It’s going to cheese off a lot of people and have a lot of additional charges for vehicles that aren’t getting to the U.K.

The new IT system represents the latest headache for importers due to Brexit, which erected new bureaucratic hurdles between the U.K. and EU, its largest trading partner. Trade with the bloc has suffered due to the extra red tape, and is about 15% lower than it would have been had the U.K. stayed in the bloc, according to modeling by the Centre for European Reform, a think-tank.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the government body responsible for administration at the border, said in a statement that it’s aware of a small amount of user error issues with some of the new customs processes as traders and haulers adjust to the new controls, which we expected and are addressing.

To be sure, due to the seasonal slump in commerce, freight activity is currently low. According to Tim Reardon, head of EU Exit at Dover, current volumes through the Port of Dover — Britain’s busiest gateway — are comparable to previous years. Industry experts predict activity to ramp up in the coming weeks, putting the post-Brexit plans to the test.

Honda was one of the enterprises hit by the new procedures, with a shipment of power items and parts being held up at the U.K. border due to wrongly coded goods. Since then, the shipment has been released.

Some teethings problems are not unexpected as the U.K.’s new customs systems come online, Honda said in a statement. We are currently looking into the details behind this.

Another business struggling to move goods into Britain is Angelos Panayiotou’s Windfall Logistics, who has a shipment of Arizona Iced Tea, which retails in Tesco Plc supermarkets, stuck in the EU. Panayiotou said he had generated the correct paperwork for the goods but he gets an error message when he tries to log it on the government’s system.

There’s no-one to go to help, Panayiotou said in a phone interview. You’ve just got drivers stuck at port, unable to move.

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