For businesses, there is little solace to be found in the heavy bureaucratic curtain that fell around Britain when its departure from the EU took effect earlier this year, and that curtain will only help. thicken when UK import controls begin next year.
The vast volume of paperwork that now has to be completed for products crossing the Irish Sea is no fun and is one of the myriad reasons why truck drivers in Eastern Europe have decided to stay at home. them after the Covid lockdowns and why UK supplies have been so disrupted.
The nature of trade between Ireland and Britain unfortunately dates back to the 1980s, before the existence of the EU Single Market. This week’s numbers from Stena Line, the Irish Sea’s largest ferry operator, take us back to another hallmark of a bygone era of commerce: the alcohol-free cruise. Stena reported a fivefold increase in duty-free sales on its Dublin-Holyhead and Rosslare-Fishguard routes in August, as people used the easing of Covid travel restrictions from July to take advantage of purchases from tax-free alcohol after Brexit. Irish Sea routes for the first time since leaving Great Britain.
Inexpensive tax-free round-trip tickets and even cheaper alcoholic beverages on board make the boat trip appealing to those looking for cheap alcohol deals. There are already “non-landers” who are just there for the booze – passengers who don’t even bother to disembark – but they are GB to ROI travelers for now, though Stena is expects ROI to GB non-landers to be more restrictive. are up.
Elsewhere, Brexit generates good business in other seas. DFDS, the Danish ferry company that launched the direct Rosslare-Dunkirk route bypassing Britain earlier this year, said on Friday it had carried more than 40,000 units of cargo since January, right on target. Notably, 35% of these units were unaccompanied, which may indicate the future and a driverless solution to the driver shortage problem encountered everywhere, but most notably in Great Britain.
DFDS plans to transport an additional 20,000 units of freight by Christmas, so it looks like that direct route – and duty-free alcohol travel on Irish Sea routes – is here to stay.