COVID-19: Learn how the Dutch government provides support to business affected by Covid-19 Learn More
Brexit: Learn how the Dutch government provides support to companies affected by the UK leaving the EU Learn More

Keep it Moving: How the Dutch Logistics Sector is Ready for Brexit

Time is running out for companies needing to adapt their supply chains before the Brexit transition period ends on January 1, but just across the North Sea, they’ll find a partner who can make the transition as smooth as possible

Since 2016, when the Brexit referendum set the wheels in motion for the UK’s formal departure from the European Union, the Netherlands’ logistics sector has been busy behind the scenes. As Europe’s leading logistics location – home to the world’s most efficient seaports and the highest quality of air transport in the EU – the country has a critical role to play to ensure minimal supply chain disruption once the transition period between the UK and the EU ends on January 1 of next year. Thanks to the Netherlands’ thorough preparation over the past several years, international companies will be able to make a smooth entry into the European market in 2021, and beyond.

Dutch seaports

Preparation nation

With the deadline quickly approaching on the horizon, the Netherlands is well prepared for any outcome. The first order of business for the Dutch to get ready for Brexit was to establish the projected volume of trade between the UK and the Netherlands; given that this trade has historically taken place within a single market, no statistics had been collected. Based on calculations by the Dutch Customs Administration, the Netherlands expects a 20 to 30% increase in declarations for imported and exported cargo. To support this anticipated spike in the flow of goods, the Administration has recruited and trained over 900 new customs officers.

“We’re very lucky that in the Netherlands, there is good cooperation between the trade organizations and Customs,” said Roel van ‘t Veld, the Administration’s Brexit Coordinator. “We’ve been able to work together to be prepared and have the systems up and running on both the customs side and the port side.”

Speaking to the latter, Port of Rotterdam Spokesperson Leon Willems agreed that the Port – Europe’s largest – is “very good partners with customs, the food and veterinary inspection, and the ferry terminals.” Such collaboration is crucial, as 80% of UK-Dutch trade is processed through the Port of Rotterdam each year.

This joint effort has been deemed the “Dutch approach,” which calls for shippers to register their declarations digitally before they arrive at any point of entry to the Netherlands. The digital pre-notification is easily executed through the Portbase system, a one-stop shop that connects all parties in the logistics chains of the Dutch ports. This new digital solution has helped the Netherlands accommodate the increased flow of goods by allowing everyone in the logistics chain to communicate easily and efficiently. As a digital frontrunner, the Netherlands is leading the way with this solution to optimize logistical processes.

Looking ahead to January 1

The thought of the first day in a post-Brexit world may strike fear in the hearts of some. “It’s not as easy as getting your customs ID number,” said van ‘t Veld. “The way you trade between the EU and the UK has changed.” Despite this, the Netherlands has made “business as usual” their MO on January 1.

Beginning that day, all shippers will need to have registered their cargo through Portbase in advance of their arrival in the Netherlands. Based on simulations, the Port of Rotterdam anticipates about 250 trucks that will not have this digital paperwork in order, and has tripled its number of contingency parking places in order to accommodate them.

However, the arrival of January 1 does not mean the Dutch logistics sector can sit back and relax. “We’re not done yet,” said Jochem Sanders, Manager of Business Relations & Business Development Europe at the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC). “Every day companies approach us to talk about a logistics solution that is “EU 2021-proof.” All of our members are working on Brexit-related opportunities, and we expect this to continue into 2021.”

Dutch logistics

Setting up shop in the Netherlands

While the Netherlands has made it as easy as possible for companies to continue the flow of goods between the UK and the EU post-Brexit, some have chosen to go a step further and establish a new supply chain outpost in the Netherlands to better serve their European customers.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of Brexit-related projects in recent months, and this means that there is a great demand for logistics solutions in the Netherlands,” said Sanders.

One such company is the British online retailer Monster Group, which set up a European Distribution Center in the Dutch city of Venlo to circumvent possible Brexit disruption to its operations.

According to Monster Group’s Managing Director Rana Harvey, they settled on the Netherlands due to the country’s superior English language skills, but also several logistical advantages. The Venlo location allows the company to fulfill next-day deliveries to many of their European customers, for instance, and to import containers from Asia into the Port of Rotterdam quickly and cheaply.

“We found that in dealing with the Netherlands – with the NFIA and HIDC – everyone wanted us to succeed, and we did,” said Harvey. “In exactly one month, we opened our doors and started taking parcels delivered from the UK.” In fact, Monster Group’s move to the Netherlands has been even more advantageous than expected: in January 2020, the company achieved a 50:50 sales split between UK and Europe for the first time ever.

When it comes to how Monster Group is preparing for January 1, Harvey said they’re hard at work getting the paperwork in order for the goods that they do send out from the UK – luckily, though, that’s only 6.5% of their trade to the EU. “The rest is all serviced from Venlo, which is a good thing!”

If you are interested in doing business in the Netherlands, please contact us for more information.

15 December 2020

Get In Touch

Contact Us