UK delays Brexit border checks on EU food as shortages hit
The UK delayed the introduction of new post-Brexit border checks on food from the European Union, as retailers battle a supply chain crisis fuelled by the pandemic and the effects of quitting the EU.
Physical inspections of EU food imports due to start in January 2022 will now happen in July 2022, Brexit minister David Frost said in a statement. A requirement to pre-notify border staff of arriving food products has also been delayed, he said.
“We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border,” Frost said. “Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls.”
Introducing the new import checks was expected to add extra pressure to supply lines at a time when supermarkets are already struggling with shortages. The EU is Britain’s largest trading partner and about 30% of all food consumed in Britain comes from the bloc, according to the British Retail Consortium.
From October, food products from the EU were also due to require extra paperwork to enter the UK. That requirement will now come into force in July 2022, Frost said. But goods being imported from the EU will still have to be accompanied by customs declarations, a new paperwork requirement coming into force on 1 January 2022.
The UK logistics industry had warned of a shortfall of veterinary professionals in the EU to provide the necessary documentation for food, and also about a lack of readiness of infrastructure at Britain’s ports to handle the new customs checks.
Frost said the government is on track to create the necessary infrastructure to handle the new checks.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.