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New UK trade checks will escalate import costs

New trade checks, as mandated by the UK's Brexit agreement, have started. They will be affecting imports from the European Union into Britain. These checks are anticipated to escalate import costs, particularly impacting smaller businesses and potentially leading to increased consumer prices for specific goods. John Davidson, co-owner of Tom Brown Wholesale, estimates these new requirements could cost his enterprise between £200,000 and £225,000 annually. "Usually we try and absorb as much as we can, but those sorts of costs... [it's] just not possible to absorb everything," he stated.

The implementation of these checks marks the second phase of border controls under the UK's Brexit trade agreement, aimed at enhancing biosecurity. The UK government asserts that the financial burden on businesses will be minimal compared to the consequences of a severe animal or plant disease outbreak. This development follows the UK's departure from the EU, with the introduction of health certificates for a range of EU goods since January and the recent initiation of physical checks. The UK has already experienced increased bureaucracy for exports to the EU for three years, with the new controls reversing the erstwhile free movement of goods under the EU single market.

Goods will undergo checks based on their risk category, with high-risk items like live animals facing stringent inspections. Medium-risk products will also be scrutinized, whereas low-risk goods, such as canned meat, are exempt. Notably, imports from the Republic of Ireland, a key food supplier to the UK, are temporarily spared from these checks, with the government delaying their application until November. Businesses have voiced concerns over potential supply chain disruptions and heightened costs, with import charges set at £29 per shipment for certain products, and a cap of £145 per consignment for multiple product categories. The government estimates these charges will annually cost British firms £330m approximately.


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