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The State of the Border: Business Experience of the UK Border 2023


GC and Clearborder have published their third annual State of the Border review of the operation of the UK border. At the centre of the report is the largest annual public survey of border users in the UK on their experience in using the border in 2023.

Among the findings in the 2024 report:

  • Although reported delays in moving goods across the UK border continue to fall after three disruptive years, business estimates of total global delivery times have risen by 10 days since 2021 as a result of new border protocols and disruptions across global supply chains.
  • Businesses are adapting and confidence in trading both with the EU and the rest of the world is rising, but changes and a period of sustained disruption has imposed new costs and uncertainty on trading firms.  
  • The introduction of import protocols on EU animal and plant products in 2024 is likely to be disruptive for EU exporters and may have longer-term implications for the scale of EU-UK food imports.  

The report’s analysis of UK port data in 2022/23 shows:  

  • Continued falls in the use of the Dover as a gateway for road-based cargos, driven by post-Brexit falls in the use of the France-Ireland landbridge.
  • Grimsy appears to have benefited from a shift to unaccompanied cargoes and Liverpool continues to consolidate on Irish sea routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

The report recommends:

  • A renewed sense of urgency around the plans for border modernisation in the UK and a clearer focus on developing new automation and processing capacity at UK borders.
  • A focus on opportunities for technical improvements under the TCA2 review due in 2025, particularly for SPS goods, to head off a potential slump in UK food imports from the EU.  

The views expressed in this report can be attributed to the named author(s) only.