Flanders and UK team up to make trade more efficient post-Brexit
A new platform called Gateway²Britain will give Flemish and Belgian companies a head start in trade with the UK post-Brexit. Flemish minister of Economy and Innovation Jo Brouns and federal minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem are working together on the project.
In the years before Brexit, the UK was Flanders' fourth largest trading partner, with 60 per cent of the export activities of the Flemish transport and logistics sector aimed at the UK. Gateway²Britain, a digital platform that should be operational by the end of this year, is intended to create a return to more straightforward trade.
"The administrative knot of customs controls and the associated costs are very difficult for our companies," says Daan De Vlieger, project coordinator at Deloitte. "But there are solutions, such as a uniform digital infrastructure, that can make a difference. Gateway²Britain helps us to carry out the formalities smoothly. That could offer Flemish exporters a competitive advantage."
"We are not only overcoming the impact of Brexit but also streamlining our entire international trade with the UK to work more efficiently with our logistics industry"
The short distance to the UK means administration takes up a considerable proportion of the overall export process. Smaller companies often lack that expertise. In addition, there are many private and public ICT systems in both countries that use similar datasets that are not interoperable.
Gateway²Britain is a unique digital system designed "to facilitate and streamline trade with the United Kingdom", the project organisers say. Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) investigated how digitisation can support the formalities, with the Flemish Institute for Logistics (VIL) and Deloitte supporting the assignment.
The results of the preliminary study, carried out by Deloitte, are said to be promising. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges and VIL will now build the data-sharing platform and physical service points with the intention to relieve SMEs of Brexit-related tasks. Unlike larger players in the market, SMEs have smaller trading volumes and less knowledge of the laws.
Flemish Minister for the Economy and Innovation Jo Brouns, during the press conference of the project 'Gateway²Britain', in Havenhuis Antwerpen. ©BELGA VIDEO ROBBE VANDEGEHUCHTE.
"The development of this system has never been seen before in the world," says Brouns. "With Gateway²Britain, we are not only overcoming the impact of Brexit but also streamlining our entire international trade with the UK to work more efficiently with our logistics industry."
The project receives financial support from the European Union. 80 per cent of the project cost is subsidised, and 20 per cent is financed by the participating companies.
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