At the Borderline: The Realities of International Trade


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At the Borderline: The Realities of International Trade

01 October 2020

At the Borderline: The Realities of International Trade

A history of open borders

As a small open economy, Ireland has always been dependent on international trade. Since before the time of Gráinne Mhaol we have traded our goods internationally and, through our Irishness, we have developed connections all over the globe and converted these connections into trading relationships. These relationships have been the catalyst that has seen our society and economy grow to unimagined levels.

With our entry into the EEC, we further developed new trading relationships, whilst retaining our old partnerships.  In recent years, our strongest trading relationship is with our nearest neighbour, the UK.  In 2019 the value of this relationship was £62.7 billion.

As I write this, we are exactly 100 days away from the biggest upset to trade with the UK that we have ever seen. Yes, I speak of Brexit. We all hope and wish that it would go away, instead it inches closer and closer.

Time for the talking to end

We have been listening to talks, about talks, for three years now. We have heard about borders down the Irish Sea, no borders, border infrastructure away from the border, border infrastructure on the border. We have heard that “it is not beyond the wit of man” and we have also heard about technological solutions. We have heard a lot, however, action has been thin on the ground.

On the first of January 2021, to trade with the UK, customs declarations will have to accompany goods moving in or out of the UK. It is that simple. 

On 31st Dec 2020, the transition period ends, and the UK will be treated as a third country. Trading with the UK, from a customs perspective, will be the same as trading with a country with no trade deal, where international trade in the absence of a trade agreement takes place under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The scale of the problem

We currently have approximately 94,000 Irish firms trading with the UK. To continue to trade with the UK post-Brexit, an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number will be required.

Over 50,000 Irish firms trading with the UK currently do not have EORI numbers. Without this number, these companies will cease trading with the UK. An application for an EORI number is completed online, it takes approximately 5 minutes and is critical for all 50,000 of these companies should they wish to continue to trade with the UK. To register for an EORI Number, simply click here.

In addition to requiring an EORI number, all goods will have to be accompanied by a customs declaration. As we go from 1.6 million customs declarations per annum to 20 million customs declarations per annum, there may be capacity issues with the existing brokers and freight forwarders to complete the declarations required. 

Who is going to help us? 

So, is it better to sit and wait for a last-minute reprieve or engage in some self-help?  At the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), we will always advocate in favour of action and to help address the problem, we have partnered with Skillnet Ireland under the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready initiative to develop a unique upskilling initiative.

Clear Customs, a free, online training programme, is designed to support Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements that will be needed as a result of Brexit. This programme was initially developed in July 2019 and delivered to 668 learners. It has since recommenced in September 2020 in a virtual format with the intention of delivering the programme to 3,000 learners.

Delivered as 10 hours training time spread over five weeks, Clear Customs will train an individual in how to make a customs declaration, both for export and import. The training is delivered by experienced customs professionals and, as well as the live virtual classrooms, learners will have access to an innovative self-paced, app-based programme to develop critical skills in their own time.

The course is free to eligible applicants and is accredited by Carlow Institute of Technology. Upon successful completion, participants will be awarded a Certificate of Customs Clearance Procedures (10 credits at Level 6).


Stop waiting, start preparing

Brexit is coming. There are no rabbits to be pulled out of a hat at the last moment. Goods will only be able to move to and from the UK accompanied by a customs declaration. Without a declaration, there will be no movement.

I would encourage all companies trading with the UK to stop waiting and start preparing, apply for an EORI number, contact a freight forwarder or customs broker to see if they will make declarations on your behalf, and finally, join us on the Clear Customs training programme.


Visit to learn more and apply


«January 2021»

Revenue reminds Hauliers of Importance of PBN + usage of Customs Channel prior to Arrival

Irish Revenue Customs have issued reminders for Hauliers and Truck drivers moving goods to, from or through, Great Britain (GB) into Ireland by Ferry in relation to the following:

  • Creating a correct Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN)
  • The importance of checking your customs channel prior to disembarking.

This guidance aims to ensure that Vehicles will be able to board their scheduled Ferry without any difficulties and, secondly, will mean Truck Drivers can present Goods for Customs Controls, if any, on arrival with the minimum of delay.

Creating a correct Pre-Boarding Notification

Those responsible for transporting goods to or from Great Britain by ferry are required to create a Pre-Boarding Notification (PBN) on the Customs RoRo Service before the goods start their journey, and in advance of Vehicles moving to the departure Port.

Revenue continues to support trade and business in adapting to the new Customs formalities arising from the UK’s departure from the EU. In this regard, a detailed step by step guide on how to create and correctly populate a PBN has been published and is accessible by clicking here.

Revenue has also set up a dedicated email support service to deal with all PBN related queries at

Additionally, Revenue put a temporary arrangement in place that allowed for the creation of a PBN for Goods movements that began before the end of the Transition Period (31 December) and ended after that date. This temporary arrangement was facilitated by allowing whoever was creating the PBN for a Goods movement into Ireland to select an option of ‘Other’. This ensured the continued movement of Goods as 1st January 2021 approached by providing the necessary details required to board the Ferry.

As the overlap period for such goods movements has now passed, Revenue confirmed this temporary arrangement will no longer be available for all sailings departing GB on or after 18:00 hours on 5th January 2021.

Highlighting this change to reflect the end of the overlap period, head of customs at Dublin Port, Tom Talbot, said:

“We had put a short-term arrangement in place to help trade in the initial days post 1 January to avoid movements getting caught between 2020 and 2021 requirements. However, this was of necessity a time limited arrangement which will come to an end later today. As such, it is important to note that in order to create a correct PBN, and ensure the efficient movement of the goods, it will be essential that the MRNs for each customs declaration for all consignments in a vehicle are included when creating the PBN. Ensuring this will avoid an unnecessary call to Customs.”

Customs Channel Look Up


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‘Hardships’ coming for traders at Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit borders, lobby groups say

FILE PHOTO: Lorry trailers are seen in the port of Larne, Larne Northern Ireland, December 30, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) – Traders selling goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom will face “real hardships” in the coming weeks after the post-Brexit regulatory border shattered normal operations, lobby groups said on Wednesday.

At a British parliamentary committee, representatives for the province’s farmers, retailers and logistics firms said British companies had not been able to prepare, or were not prepared, for new customs requirements after a last-minute trade deal.

Trucks have been sent back to Britain, some have been held for hours while they fill out forms and other suppliers have stopped servicing Northern Ireland until the new systems bed in.

“This is just the opening skirmishes,” said Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

“Retailers have been stocking up before Christmas for this first week, the flow of the first weekend was less than 20% of usual transport flow, so there are real hardships that are going to come in the middle of this month.”

Britain left the European Union’s single market and customs union at 2300 GMT on New Year’s Eve, introducing a raft of paperwork and customs declarations for those businesses that import and export goods with the bloc.

In order to keep the border open between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, a separate agreement was struck that requires a regulatory border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

While stockpiling has helped suppress trade levels into Northern Ireland in the first week of the New Year, easing the switch, some gaps have already appeared on supermarket shelves.

One large food manufacturer with 15 trucks bound for Northern Ireland could not send them because they did not have customs declarations filled out, the committee heard.

Seamus Leheny, policy manager for Northern Ireland in the Logistics UK group, said the new customs demands were hitting companies throughout the supply chain.

“One operator sent 285 trucks to GB (Great Britain), they only got 100 of those back to Northern Ireland,” he said. “The knock on effect is they can’t service NI (Northern Ireland) exports going back to GB because they’ve got lorries and equipment sitting in England waiting for loads that aren’t ready yet.”

Similar problems have been detected on the busy cross-Channel border between Britain and France, and freight companies have said that a return to normal trade levels later this month will put a huge strain

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Brexit: opening the back door

While Covid-19 and the new lockdown continues to dominate the headlines, the aftermath of TransEnd (still referred to as “Brexit” by many media sources) remains the non-story of the year.

A media lorry watcher gives us some information from ferry-operator DFDS, which says that, on 1-2 January, 1,351 vehicles went through the Port of Dover. That compares with 3,239 last year, a cut of more than half in traffic volume over the year.

The agency Bloomberg gives us rather more information, although it amounts to the same thing. Between 7 am on 31 December and 7 am on 4 January, lorry crossings at Dover averaged a thousand daily, compared with 2019 when the average was 6,500. On Monday morning, the traffic was light, with no sign of hold-ups at the Eastern Docks.

However, Richard Ballantyne, chief executive officer of the British Ports Association says that this is “probably the calm before the storm”, observing that, “It’s always quite quiet after the new year”.

Apart from the New Year’s holiday, the relative quiet is put down to companies ordering early in anticipation of potential delays, and a reduction in demand because of the temporary closure of France’s border in late December.

Another factor has been a deliberate policy of some trucking groups to avoid Dover and to delay truck movements for a few weeks until there is some sense of where the problems lie.

This is confirmed by Jon Swallow, co-founder of Jordon Freight, which ships goods between the UK and the EU. But he sees trouble ahead after taking multiple calls from businesses on Monday which believed that the Christmas Eve trade deal relieved them of the need to file paperwork to cross the Channel.

Swallow notes that their optimism is misplaced. Firms will still need to file customs declarations and comply with other new formalities due to Brexit, he says, adding: “We’re so shocked. These are not small companies”.

Delays and diversions, however, seems to be having an effect. There have been reports (by Reuters and others) of empty shelves in a Paris branch Marks & Spencer. Items out of stock included sandwiches, salads and a turkey tortilla with curry. A spokesperson for M&S said the border controls were causing delays to deliveries, although it was working on the problem with suppliers.

Paris wasn’t the only location affected though. Other reports had the M&S branch in Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin running with empty shelves. A section of the chilled goods area, which usually contained pre-prepared chicken products, was bare and other fridges also contained empty sections.

That may have someth

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This Renault D Wide Z.E. EV Truck Has Solar Panels

Image sourced from @ and is subject to copyright 

But only to power the refrigeration units…..

Renault Trucks has recently deployed another all-electric D Wide Z.E. truck in Switzerland, which was acquired by the Swiss haulier Rhyner Logistik.

An interesting thing about this particular project is that Rhyner Logistik has retrofitted the truck with solar panels (26) on the roof to power the refrigeration unit.

We don’t know how much power they will generate (a few kW at peak we guess), but it’s a brilliant idea to convert the sunlight (which would normally heat the vehicle) to electricity to cool the cargo.

“To take its virtuous approach one step further, Rhyner Logistik decided to have solar panels fitted onto the vehicle body to provide green energy for the refrigeration unit. This system is particularly suited to temperature-controlled transport, because it is when outside temperatures are high – and the sun is therefore strong – that the cooling is most needed.”

Of course, it would be great to power the entire vehicle that way, but it will not happen even if the panels had 100% efficiency. For driving, it must be charged from an external electricity source.

Hopefully, the 26-ton D Wide Z.E. will meet the expectations. Rhyner Logistik operates a fleet of 100 trucks so electrification of the rest depends on the results of the first one.

Renault Trucks: 26-ton D Wide Z.E. specs:

  • Real-world operating range: up to 180 km (112 miles)
  • Energy storage: lithium-ion batteries, 200-265 kWh
  • GVW: 26 tonnes. Weight: 27 tonnes
  • Available wheelbase: 3,900 mm
  • Two electric motors with a total rating of 370 kW (260 kW continuous output)
  • Maximum torque of electric motors: 850 Nm
  • Maximum torque rear axle: 28 kNm
  • Two-speed gearbox
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New Rail Connection Melzo-Rotterdam Available To CLdN CARGO Door-To-Door Clients

In close partnership with C.RO Ports Rotterdam and Hannibal, door-to-door transport company CLdN CARGO is now able to ship their clients’ cargo through a new rail connection between Rail Hub Rotterdam Botlek (The Netherlands) and Rail Hub Milano (Italy). Commencing January 12, 2021, the connection sees three trains depart from Melzo and Rotterdam each week. The service is available for their trailer and container customers.

Thanks to Terminal Operator C.RO Ports and Italian Rail Operator Hannibal, CLdN CARGO has considerably improved their existing intermodal connectivity between the Benelux and Italy. The door-to-door transport company can now offer both their trailer and container clients an additional rail service between Rotterdam and Milan, with weekly departures from Milan as well as Rotterdam on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, seamlessly connecting to CLdN’s shortsea services between Rotterdam, and the UK (daily) and Ireland (4 times each week).

The need for rail and shortsea transport as an alternative to road haulage has taken a huge flight since Brexit and the pandemic. By deploying additional transport options and freight capacity, CLdN CARGO was able to offer their clients peace of mind. They are and will be ready to accommodate any additional customer demand in a safe, clean and cost-efficient manner.

CLdN CARGO offers door-to-door transport services throughout Europe, based on their extensive fleet of containers, trailers and flatbeds. Thanks to a team of experts and through an extensive partner network, they act as a one-stop-shop for all their customers’ multimodal transport requirements.

Original article was published on

The post New Rail Connection Melzo-Rotterdam Available To CLdN CARGO Door-To-Door Clients appeared first on Linkline Journal - Ireland.

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