This year has been a year of turmoil for UK trade and the freight industry. Most of the issues have their roots in the COVID-19 pandemic but “BREXIT” has also been a serious factor for importers and freight forwarders alike. At the moment the Freight industry never seems to be out of the mainstream press. Never a good place to be as usually it is the trade press where headlines are made. Some of the current issues we have seen this year:
- Felixstowe Port in Chaos with lengthy berthing delays
- Felixstowe Port bans the restitution of container back into the port
- Menzies Apology for service levels at London Heathrow
- Belfast Airport to shut on day with no flights
- DNATA closes it’s doors at East Midlands Airport
The above five articles are just a small snapshot of the chaos within the industry. Rates out of the Far East by sea have been impacted with TEU rates now at the highest some forwarders are reporting than they have ever known. Small comfort for an airfreight industry which has been reeling from high inbound freight rates since the first lockdown.
Quarter 4 improvement for UK trade
We are presently halfway through Quarter 4 and the country is still in turmoil. A national lockdown is in effect which continues to hamper trade and the economy. Airfreight’s biggest Customs software provider is threatening not to support CDS and freight forwarders based in Northern Ireland are reporting they will retreat to Southern Ireland to avoid the complexities of dealing with the current system.
The UK economy and trade will get through the current quarter only to find that they will then need to handle the situation left by “BREXIT”. When the country voted for “BREXIT” nobody was to know the challenges that this would bring. On their own the issues are not major.
Add Covid-19 into the mix and things get a lot tougher. UK Trade will head into 2021 with the same challengers we face presently. High freight rates, Air & Sea. Vessels routing into Europe for containers to come back into the UK by Merchant haulage. Requirements for freight forwarders to refill empty container with back-loads across into Europe if ships continue to cut and run from Felixstowe. Add to that Q1 2021 delays for European cargo coming in and out of the UK and you have to feel for the smaller freight forwarder.