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UK Brexit border controls to be introduced in stages

“What they have done is provide a broad time scale with little detail"

Last week the UK Government confirmed that there would be no extension to the transition period and Brexit will go ahead on 1st January 2021. The government did announce on Friday that border controls for EU goods imported into Great Britain will be introduced in stages after the transition period to give businesses more time to prepare.

The publication from the UK Government states that from 1 January 2021 the UK will have the autonomy to introduce its own approach to goods imported to GB from the EU.

Recognising the impact of coronavirus on businesses’ ability to prepare, and following the announcement in February that the UK would implement full border controls on imports coming into GB from the EU, the UK has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021. This flexible and pragmatic approach will give industry extra time to make necessary arrangements. Click here to read the full publication.

What will this mean for the fresh produce industry which is already suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak?

“Whist ultimately it is a political decision to extend the transition period or not, given that they have made that decision and given the public announcement on Friday I would have hoped the UK Government would have been more able to give clear and absolute guidance to the industry,” commented Nigel Jenney, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium.

“What they have done is provide a broad time scale with little detail, so from an industry point of view we urgently need to know what they mean and how these proposals will work so that businesses can be prepared.”

There is little detail in the publication, but in essence there won't be physical checks on many products for a number of months. However there will be a requirement for pre- notification and perhaps physical checks on high risk plants/plant products at the point of UK destination or other approved premises from January, Further detail is anticipated soon.

“Our concerns are the UK government’s evaluation on what products and what volume of products would require subsequent inspections because it would appear that they intend building a range of facilities to conduct border inspection, some of those may be inland. We are extremely concerned about the location of these facilities, how these facilities will operate as they would need to operate on a 24/7 basis and what the cost would be to the industry. We would be very keen to have a far greater dialogue with the UK government, we fully accept the UK’s position that it wants to regain its sovereignty and in response to that we do believe the industry can work constructively with them to find perhaps much more cost effective solutions for both the government and the industry than the ones they appear to be outlining currently.

“COVID -19 has had a huge impact on the global produce industry as well as for the UK nationally. The huge impact on businesses in term of resources and the number of people these businesses can now employ. Additional challenges to this which are complex and difficult are simply becoming almost impossible to deliver on.”

For more information:
Nigel Jenney
Fresh Produce Consortium
Tel: +44 (0)1733 237117  

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