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Why a Belgian port is already feeling Brexit pain

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 01:49

UK fears about leaving the EU without a trade deal have been widely documented, but there's growing concern in some areas of mainland Europe acutely exposed to Brexit. Reuters Jacob Greaves reports from Belgium's North sea port of Zeebrugge.

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They call this one of Britain's biggest ports…except its actually in mainland Europe. So it's perhaps not surprising then that people here share the biggest fear of many in the U.K. ... departing the EU without a trade deal Zeebrugge on the North Sea coast services numerous UK ports, among them Southampton, Sheerness and Tilbury Here they're preparing for the restoration of customs borders by testing new registration technology And trying to diversify - but the idea of simply finding other people to do business with is a hard sell. SOUNDBITE) (English) JOACHIM COENS, CEO, ZEEBRUGGE PORT AUTHORITY, SAYING: "There's no country that can really replace the UK for us. There is also concern also that the North sea ports are affected by possible trade diminishing are only there and the rest of Europe might not be so much concerned." International Car Operators is the global leader in roll on roll off cargo. Here every year they handle 2 million cars - but a quarter of that trade is with Britain. That makes them highly exposed to the potential resumption of World Trade Organization tariffs. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARC ADRIANSENS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CAR OPERATORS, SAYING: "If they were to implement it that means on car businesses 10%, so 10% is a lot, so take into account when the pound is down already, we see sales going down. Add on that 10% that would further kill the business - so we certainly don't want that." Adding to their concern is the very real prospect of cargo ships laden with cars from Japan and the Far East simply steaming straight for UK ports. Right now Brexit could blow in any direction. There are people on both sides of the English Channel with concerns about what will be left in its wake.

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Why a Belgian port is already feeling Brexit pain

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 01:49