Government announcement on new import checks welcome but there must be no further delay
5th Apr 2023 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA has welcomed the Government announcement that it is finally planning to introduce new checks on food imports from October, but has urged them to ensure there are no further delays.
In collaboration with the Scottish and Welsh Governments, the Government has developed a draft Border Target Operating Model, which is set to be phased in over the course of a year.
While UK exporters to the EU have faced burdensome checks since January 2021, the Government has repeatedly delayed implementing equivalent checks on imports, a huge concern to the UK pig sector, particularly given the presence of African swine fever (ASF) across much of Europe.
However, the draft TOM now proposes implementation of controls through three major milestones:
- October 31, 2023 - The introduction of health certification on imports of medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU.
- January 31, 2024 - The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU. At this point imports of sanitary and phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will begin to benefit from the new risk-based model.
- October 31, 2024 - Safety and security declarations for EU imports will come into force from 31 October 2024. Alongside this, we will introduce a reduced dataset for imports and use of the UK Single Trade Window will remove duplication where possible across different pre-arrival datasets.
The Government said it was its ‘firm intention’ to proceed with the first milestone on October 31, and urged businesses to work with their supply chains to prepare for this change now.
The TOM also outlines that new checks and controls will be introduced for Irish goods moving from Ireland directly to Great Britain. In accordance with the Windsor Framework, Northern Ireland businesses will retain unfettered access to Great Britain, whether moving goods directly or indirectly through Irish ports.
A six-week engagement period will now take place, with the final Target Operating Model to be published later this year. The border transformation is backed by over £1 billion across this spending review period, to improve how government systems and technology support the movement of goods and people across the border.
Central to this, the new Single Trade Window, delivered from 2023 to be fully operational by 2027. This technology will streamline processes for traders, who will only need to submit information once and in one place, the Government said.
The proposals apply to imports from all countries. Highlighting the threat of diseases like ASF, the Government said the controls will ensure our environment is protected, deliver food that is safe to eat whilst maintaining security of supply for consumers, and disrupt criminal activity before it can harm our communities.
NPA chief executive Lizzie Wilson said: “This is long overdue but very welcome, nonetheless. After so many delays, the Government must now ensure the timetable does not slip any further.
“The Government’s failure to implement proper checks on imports coming into the country has been unacceptable and the lack of checks has clearly exposed the UK to a greater risk of a devastating African swine fever outbreak.
“The NPA has been pressing the Government to put this right and we are pleased that they have finally listened. We now look forward to seeing a new regime that is fit-for-purpose introduced without delay.”