Preparing the supply chain for Brexit

Since 2016, the logistics and supply chain industry has been waiting for answers about the direction of Brexit and how it will impact the movement of goods between the UK and the EU.

As another Brexit deadline looms closer and future trading agreements remain uncertain, there has been little progress on what Brexit will actually mean in a practical sense.

To help businesses to prepare, the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC) has been following developments and working with industry representatives in the UK to find out how they can help each other, and the industry, when Brexit happens.

Change and uncertainty

Remco Buurman, Chief Executive Officer at HIDC, said that, despite the uncertainty, there are ways that companies can start to plan for Brexit now to ensure a smooth transition for when the UK leaves the EU.

“There are many potential consequences for trade between the UK and the EU, but we are seeing lots of companies starting to divide their stock between locations, or finding a new logistics provider for their business, to ensure they can still operate post-Brexit,” he explained.

Buurman said the Dutch government is also preparing for Brexit by hiring an additional 900 Customs staff – an increase of about 20 per cent – and investing in new IT systems and infrastructure to minimise delays.

“Lots of people are still underestimating the impacts of Brexit,” he said.

“We are expecting delays to trade between the UK and the EU, particularly for perishables like pharma and food, so businesses need to start considering how they will handle the changes.”

Preparing for post-Brexit trade

Despite the uncertainty though, Buurman is confident that trade between the UK and the Netherlands will continue after Brexit.

“The UK is the second largest trading partner for the Netherlands, so are expecting an impact here, but we also have a lot of experience in trading with third countries, which is what the UK will become,” he added.

To prepare for Brexit, Buurman recommends the following three steps:

  1. Develop Brexit scenarios to consider how they will impact your business and how they can be mitigated
  2. If trading between the UK and EU, or vice versa, then start to split stock between both locations (if possible) and consider regional logistics partners
  3. Ensure your business is Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certified and that it has an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number (if needed)

HIDC is a non-profit organisation that represents and promotes the Dutch logistics industry. It has 300 members, including Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.