UK announces £200m fund for ports to deal with post-Brexit strain
Britain's government on Friday announced £200 million in funding to build new port facilities in a bid to accelerate preparations ahead of its departure from the European Union customs union.
Britain officially left the European Union in January, with a transition period agreed to soften the impact of the divorce due to end in December.
Both parties are currently locked in fractious talks to secure a deal on their future relationship before then, with the EU on Thursday launching legal proceedings in response to the British government's attempt to overturn parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Even with a deal, the trading relationship and border measures will change significantly. No deal would see trade conducted on World Trade Organization rules, with new tariffs placing huge pressure on port infrastructure.
"Today, the government is ramping up its preparations for the end of the transition period with the launch of a £200 million (US$250 million) fund for ports to build new facilities," the government said in a statement.
Ports that have the space to build new facilities including warehouses, control posts and traffic management systems will be invited to apply for the funding.
"With just three months to go until the end of the UK transition period, businesses need to prepare now for the new procedures that will come into place whether or not we reach a trade agreement with the EU, so that we can seize the significant opportunities that lie ahead," said senior minister Michael Gove.
"We have listened to businesses and the border industry and will continue to work with them to deliver not just a fully operational border at the end of the transition period, but also the world's most effective and secure border within the next five years. The launch of this £200 million fund will help us do just that," he added.
The last scheduled round of trade talks begins on Tuesday as scores of officials meet in Brussels, presided by Europe's Michel Barnier and his counterpart David Frost.