Delays importing and exporting goods to and from the EU have worsened since Brexit was introduced at the start of the year and will result in stock shortages and price rises for consumers, according to a report.
A survey of 350 supply chain managers found that two out of three had experienced delays of “at least two to three days” getting goods into the UK, compared with 38% who reported delays in a similar survey in January.
A third of this group said the delays were “significantly longer” than in January, 28% said “slightly longer” and 15% reported delays of a similar length to January. Just 18% of those surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) said they experienced no delays or fewer delays.
The situation was only slightly better for exports, with 44% experiencing delays of at least two to three days getting goods into the EU.
The survey comes as one of the UK’s largest chemical producers, BASF, reveals it has experienced “substantial friction” from the new trade barriers caused by withdrawal from the EU.
In a submission to the Scottish parliament ahead of a committee hearing on Brexit on Thursday it said its biopesticide business “has not exported successfully from the UK during January”.
It said product losses had been high and the department for environment had been unable to answer “standard phytosanitary questions the industry warned of over two years ago” with holds up resulting in “damaged and unusable” products reaching the customer.
It reported that drivers were being forced to sleep in their trucks for days at the UK Irish border and lorry loads being turned back on way to the EU because paperwork and mixed loads “seem to flummox port officials”.
And in an indication that Brexit is not a teething problem, it sad initial optimism about tariffs “has largely disappeared”.
“The lack of any transition period is one of the reasons for the practical difficulties”, in addition to the rapidly agreed deal which meant negotiators “ran out of time to address them [issues] fully,” it said in a 24-page submission by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
In a separate submission to the Welsh affairs committee in the House of Commons, ABPI warned of an “unnecessary duplicative requirement” to batch test medicines coming in from the EU from 2022 in Northern Ireland and into Great Britain from 2023.
Unless a deal is struck, the current situation could mean delays of up to six weeks to get medicines to patients, the ABPI said.
Dr John Glen, a CIPS economist and visiting fellow at the Cranfield School of Management, said: “We are well into the second month of the new arrangements and the hope that delays at the border would reduce as freight volumes returned to normal and customs systems became used to the new processes has not come to pass.”
He added: “The knock-on impact of these delays will trickle far down the supply chain and ultimately result in stock shortages and inflated prices for consumers.”
Almost half said delays were caused by customs paperwork on both sides of the border.
Glen said business should brace for the delays to continue “for at least the next few months”, with an array of new checks being introduced in the second phase of the UK application of the Brexit deal on 1 April and 1 July.
A government spokesperson said the phased approach to import controls over three stages up until 1 July 2021 would “ensure traders and hauliers have sufficient time to adjust to new processes”.
It added that “the latest available data shows that overall freight volumes between the UK and the EU are back to their normal levels, thanks to the hard work put in by traders and hauliers to prepare for the end of the transition period” and that extensive support was available including a £20m SME Brexit support fund as well as webinars, helplines and guides for tailored information.