The port of Rotterdam faces ‘unrest’ if there’s no Brexit deal, its boss warned (Robin van Lonkhuijsen)

The Hague (AFP) – Europe’s largest port faces “unrest and insecurity” if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, Rotterdam harbour’s chief executive said Thursday.

The Dutch port is a main point of entry and between Britain and the European Union, handling some 54 million tonnes of goods yearly between the two countries, according to port figures.

But officials have raised fears that many truck drivers could arrive at its doorstep without the proper documentation in place to export to a country outside the EU should London leave the bloc without a deal in place on March 29.

“The first days after Brexit will for sure bring unrest and insecurity” if Britain leaves without a divorce agreement, Allard Castelein said as the harbour released its 2018 results.

“We have done everything to be as well-prepared as possible, but there will always be problems,” he said in a transcript of a speech confirmed to AFP.

Some 600,000 trucks a year carry loads into the Rotterdam port destined for Britain, port figures added.

The harbour within the next few weeks will be preparing a large piece of land south of the port as a temporary holding space for 200 trucks, allowing drivers to sort out permits and continue as part of a contingency plan, port officials said.

“A similar terrain to the north still has to be found,” port spokesman Sjaak Poppe told AFP.

The Netherlands has made major preparations to deal with the impact on its economy, which is closely linked with Britain.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in an interview published in the Financial Times on Thursday that around 250 businesses were close to a decision to move to the Netherlands from a “diminished” Britain because of Brexit.

The Dutch Institute for Transport Policy recentky concluded that Brexit will have a “significant impact on bilateral trade between the Netherlands and Britain, decreasing by 25 to 50 percent, depending on post-Brexit scenarios.”

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