UK proposes lighter touch approach to post-Brexit border checks

UK proposes lighter touch approach to post-Brexit border checks
Опубликовано: Thursday, 06 April 2023 05:14

Plans for a more streamlined regime will come into effect in October.

LONDON — British goods imports from the EU will be subject to new red tape from October, after the U.K. government today released its new post-Brexit border proposals.

The new plans will see a more streamlined process than previously announced, after a series of delays on more stringent checks on goods coming from the EU to the U.K.

Imports of plant and animal products considered to be a “medium risk” — including meat, dairy and fish — and foods of a non-animal origin considered to be “high risk” will need to have health certificates from October.

Phytosanitary certificates will also be required for phytosanitary goods — items like fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains — imported from the EU.

New physical checks will be implemented at the U.K. border from January, before further security and safety checks for all EU imports are introduced in October 2024.

However, the level of physical checks required on many goods will be less stringent than previously planned.

Britain’s Cabinet Office said the introduction of the plans would be staggered to minimize business disruption, but warned that firms should “work with their supply chains to prepare for this change now.”

The proposals include provisions to create a “trusted trader scheme” to allow regular importers to avoid going through rigorous custom checks every time.

The overarching goal is to create a “single trade window,” which would allow traders to submit their paperwork in a single digital system — something businesses say is a vast improvement.

The government says the new paperwork and checks are required to “strengthen our borders against biosecurity threats and illegal imports” post-Brexit.

Lord Richard Benyon, a minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “Invasive diseases could cost our farms and businesses billions of pounds, threaten our food safety and break confidence in UK exports around the world.

“That is why we are working hand in glove with businesses to devise a strong system that works for the nation.”

There may be some skepticism within the private sector around whether the checks will actually be implemented to the announced timescale, after the previous delays.

U.K. exporters have complained that EU firms have been at an advantage as Brussels implemented full customs checks on U.K. goods in early 2021.

Many business groups have been crying out for clarity from the government on the future border model.

The Institute of Export and International Trade, who helped advise on the proposals, said it is “important ministers make sure that deadline does not slip because UK businesses are currently at a significant competitive disadvantage.”

“It is really very important that every participant in the supply chain including SMEs benefits from what is being proposed,” the institute’s director general Marco Forgione said.

Dominic Goudie, from the Food and Drink Federation lobby group, said the plans were “another step forward in the development of the UK’s border infrastructure” and could “provide a more coherent regime that will apply to imports from all countries.”

"Government must ensure this model takes advantage of the opportunity to simplify and cut the cost of international trade, including through innovative digital solutions, while at the same time ensuring that the safety of and trust in UK food and drink is not undermined,” Goudie said.

The government will now consult businesses and other stakeholders on the plans, with the Cabinet Office set to announce an update later this year.

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