As of January 31st, the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum continues to shape the UK’s trade landscape, with fresh food and flower imports from the European Union now subjected to new Brexit custom controls. These changes, aimed at enhancing border security, are anticipated to incur an additional cost of over £300 million annually, further exacerbating the challenges posed by the ongoing Cost Of Living Crisis.
Under the updated regulations, imports of chilled and frozen meat, fish, dairy products, and select cut flowers from the EU will necessitate an export health certificate. These certificates must be endorsed by a European veterinarian or plant inspector before the goods are permitted entry into the UK. The introduction of this red tape is part of the government’s broader Border Target Operating Model, which is touted as essential for maintaining biosecurity and trust in UK exports.
Starting from April 30th, the affected goods will undergo physical inspections at the border, introducing the potential for delays and shortages. The Grocery Gazette reports a government spokesperson stating, “We are committed to delivering the most advanced border in the world. The Border Target Operating Model is key to delivering this, protecting the UK’s biosecurity from potentially harmful pests and diseases and maintaining trust in our exports.”
The implications of these changes extend beyond bureaucratic procedures, impacting the cost and availability of goods for British consumers. Medium and high-risk foods, including live animals, eggs for hatching, cheese, dairy, fish, and meat, will now require health certificates for importation. This move adds complexity and cost to the importation process, affecting businesses on both sides of the English Channel.
From April 30th onwards, these goods will face physical sanitary checks at the border. Although not every individual product will undergo inspection, all produce will be subject to an entry charge. This additional layer of scrutiny has raised concerns about potential bottlenecks and disruptions to the supply chain, particularly in the wake of the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, the government aims to extend the new import system to cover all food items from October 31st, moving beyond the current focus on medium and high-risk products. This signals a significant shift in the UK’s approach to food imports, with potential implications for the diversity and cost of the nation’s food supply.
The changes come at a time when the UK is grappling with a broader Cost Of Living Crisis, marked by inflationary pressures and increased expenses for households. The impact on the prices of essential goods, including food and flowers, is likely to intensify concerns among consumers and businesses alike.
In conclusion, the new Brexit customs controls, effective as of January 31st, mark a significant development in the ongoing post-Brexit era. The introduction of export health certificates, physical inspections, and entry charges for specific goods from the EU reflects the government’s commitment to bolstering border security and biosecurity. However, the potential consequences on trade costs, delays, and the overall cost of living for UK citizens remain subjects of keen interest and concern. As the government eyes further expansion of these measures to encompass all food items by October 31st, the coming months will undoubtedly witness increased scrutiny and debate surrounding the impact of these changes on the UK’s trade dynamics and everyday life.