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‘Pragmatism’ wins the day on import controls

[ September 14, 2021   //   ]

The government has set out a new “pragmatic” timetable for introducing full Customs controls for imports from the EU.

Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as previously announced, but safety and security declarations will now not be required until 1 July 2022 and pre-notification of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods, which were due to be introduced on 1 October this year will now be introduced on 1 January 2022.

The new requirements for Export Health Certificates, also due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now come into force on 1 July 2022.

Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at Border Control Posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.

Safety and Security declarations on imports will be required as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022.

The Government said that businesses have faced a range of challenges over recent months as they recover from the global pandemic which is being felt particularly by the agri-food sector. It had heed calls for businesses to be given more time to adjust.

Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Frost, said: “We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we’ve set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls.

“Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022.”

He added: “The government “remains on track to deliver the new systems, infrastructure and resourcing required.”

It would also work closely with the devolved administrations on the implementation of this new timetable, given their responsibilities for agri-food controls.

However, Logistics UK argued that the postponement would create more, not less work for the industry. Head of international policy, Sarah Laouadi, said members “have already worked towards two deadlines for the introduction of these formalities, and more delays heaps additional work to an industry already working at full stretch…This second change of plan for import controls will add to the uncertainty and creates extra re-adjustment costs for the logistics industry. While there is relief in some quarters at the additional time to prepare for new border processes, another deferment will cause instability for businesses already stretched by the impact of Covid-19. It also penalises those companies that invested time and money to progress their readiness journey as much as possible; these businesses now need the Government to confirm the last details about border facilities and systems.”

Chief executive of the UK Major Ports Group, Tim Morris, said: “As ports we understand the concerns of traders about the introduction of new border measures. For the port operators themselves it continues to be a really frustrating process. Ports have been doing all they can, including making significant investments, to ensure border facilities are substantively ready to meet the original deadlines. We want to work closely with Government to not only ensure the delivery of fully functioning borders but also mitigate the downsides of further delay, like empty facilities.”

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