Interview with Álvaro Partida, Head of the BREXIT Department at Partida Logistics.
The introduction of the Plant Health Certificate will add complexity to the operations with the UK. But it is not the only logistics obstacle left to overcome with the United Kingdom.
Border controls and bureaucratic procedures have been a headache since Brexit started. After the first weeks, what valuation would you make?
Positive; it has been better than expected. Weeks before the agreement, the fear could be felt in the air and the constant waves of information caused a great deal of uncertainty and doubts. Partida had an action protocol established with the clients, and during the first two weeks we optimised procedures, perfecting communications and exchanges of documentation (commercial invoices, CMRs, SADs and MRNs). It seems that in the United Kingdom they have had more headaches as they were not 100% prepared for the continuous avalanche of lorries with an incredible variety of products, each of which had its own requirements.
The United Kingdom’s fishing sector is denouncing the fact that the fish is rotting in its ports. Is the UK less prepared than Spain, logistically-speaking?
I understand that the UK was not completely ready, but I don’t understand why they haven’t invested in port facilities (BIPs) such as cold storage areas or skilled workers to prevent throwing away goods that go bad quickly. Spain has been marketing perishable goods such as fish and berries for many years around the world. Our companies are familiar with the customs procedures and specific logistic requirements.
Just-in-time has already been implemented in reefer logistics. Delays, setbacks or additional costs generate significant losses for the operators who compete fiercely to supply the food distribution chains as soon as possible.
Discovering the customs and other requirements (Soivre, Phyto, Animal Health, Vegetable Health…) needs studying and a great deal of practice. The origin of the goods, the exact typology and taxation involved all come into play when importing.
At Partida, long before Brexit, they explained the suitability of establishing Authorised Logistics Platforms for Export Goods (LAMEs, in its Spanish acronym) to make the logistics procedures more flexible. Have there been many initiatives of this type in the agricultural sector?
Indeed, from the very beginning we recommend exporters and transporters to consider processing the LAMEs, with the aim of making them more competitive and opening up a wide range of possibilities to make customs procedures easier.
We have clients who already have them and others who are waiting approval from the Public Administrations. At times, Partida has provided advice and has led them by the hand in the process. Without any doubt, it is a competitive advantage. Being able to clear customs in their own warehouses makes the procedures easier for them and for us. However, this has limitations and we will see what can be done with the Phyto area.
What logistics obstacles are yet to come with the United Kingdom?
The “second season” arrives with the introduction of the Plant Health Certification that will add complexity to exports/imports with the UK. This work protocol has yet to be defined and we will see how and where the goods may be inspected, when required. We are in continuous contact with them to discover the details, and we have offered to carry out trials with their procedures and platforms. The REX will progressively and completely replace the current origin certification using source documents (EUR-1, Form A). The system will simplify export procedures by allowing registered exporters to self-certify the origin of the goods being exported, by way of the inclusion of a specific declaration (the so-called communications regarding origin) on the invoice or on any other trade document. This will come into effect on the 1st of January, 2022.
Regarding the issuing of invoices in English, it is just a question of time before the UK stops allowing documentation in Spanish or any other language. The purchasing country always establishes the rules, and, in this case, English is the official language of international logistics. Therefore, this means another job for everyone.
Partida has created a new, specific department for operations with the United Kingdom. The team of 18 people work in morning, afternoon and night shifts, from Monday to Sunday. Of different ages, with different levels of experience in customs and other sectors, but all with the same common denominators: “the hunger and value that employment opportunities give them, considering the situation our country is experiencing.” Since the beginning of November, Partida has been investing in personnel and resources to train them in “the arts” of Customs.