The government has announced it will delay making checks on imports of animal products from the EU.
Pre-notification and export health certification for animal products will now not be required until 1 October 2021, while physical checks at the border will not take place on a range of agri-food products until 1 January 2022. Physical checks on live animals will now not take place until March 2022. These will be carried out at Border Control Posts.
The previous Border Operating Model dictated that the new but limited Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) controls, which have been applied to goods imported from the EU including live animals from 1 January 2021, would be expanded from 1 April 2021 to cover administrative requirements.
The NFU raised concerns there would not be a level playing field for British exporters, who have faced tough new checks at the border since 1 January this year. But NFU president Minette Batters said she now wanted the UK and EU to work together to agree long-term arrangements as a matter of priority so trade can flow as smoothly as possible while new border infrastructure and systems are put in place.
“Since 1 January the UK’s agri-food sector has been struggling with the additional costs and burdens that moving goods to the EU now entails. It is therefore frustrating that our government is not taking a similar approach to the treatment of imports coming into Great Britain from the EU.
“Our exporters face additional costs and run the risk of financial losses if products are turned back or held up at the border, yet today’s announcement means that EU producers will maintain access to the UK market relatively burden-free for a considerable amount of time. It is crucial that we achieve a level playing field with pragmatic checks on imports and exports as quickly as possible.
“However, we also recognise that for certain food products this extension is a necessary step to ensure supermarket shelves remain well stocked.
“Live animal imports for breeding will not require checks at Border Control Posts until March next year, which is a pragmatic solution whilst there are still no UK facilities able to host them at the border. We will continue our discussions with ports in both the UK and EU that would be able to suitably support this trade to try to ensure it can continue.”
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) meanwhile said it welcomed the step as pragmatic. Chief Executive Ian Wright said: “The FDF welcomes this sensible and pragmatic step to ensure that food and drink continues to flow, and allows manufacturers access to the inputs and ingredients they need in order to continue producing the full range of products for UK shoppers and consumers.
“Government must now use this time to do everything it can to support UK food and drink exporters who continue to face huge difficulties moving goods into the EU. They must work constructively with the EU to address barriers to trade by improving the implementation of the trade agreement and streamlining processes.”