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Post-Brexit increase in customs checks 'could hit freight traffic'

A major post-Brexit increase in customs checks at ports could "seriously disrupt" the smooth transit of freight traffic into the UK, MPs have heard.

James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the Freight Transport Association, said there is a "very free-flowing" movement of traffic under the current arrangements.

He told the Commons Home Affairs committee: "Many businesses in the UK rely on smooth transit of traffic into and out of the European Union to keep their supply chains at the required levels.

"The introduction of checks, especially at the ports, could seriously disrupt that and require very significant reconfiguration of Britain's supply chain."

He expressed hope that the Prime Minister's aim of securing "frictionless" cross-border trade could be achieved.

But he also warned that customs and other organisations need to "invest sufficiently to preserve as close as possible the levels of service and reliability through our ports as we have at the moment".

The committee was also told that shipping containers which are selected for inspection by authorities can remain in port estates for between two and four days.

Graeme Charnock, c hief financial officer of the Peel Ports Group, said: " If we are going to increase the dwell time that means we need increased areas, possibly warehouses as well.

"On a busy port estate there are constraints around being able to deal with that."

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