Britain delays implementation of post-Brexit trade controls
Britain said on Tuesday it was delaying the implementation of some post-Brexit import controls, the second time they have been pushed back, citing pressures on businesses from the pandemic and global supply chain strain.
Britain left the European Union's single market at the end of last year but unlike Brussels which introduced border controls immediately, it staggered the introduction of import checks on goods such as food to give businesses time to adapt.
The news gives Irish exporters to Britain more time to prepare to comply with the new regulations coming in as a result of Brexit.
Food exporters to Britain will benefit in particular, with a requirement to pre-notify shipments, which had been due to come into place on October 1, delayed until January 1, 2022.
Full phytosanitary checks on food and plant products and live animals, due on January 1st, 2022, will not now be introduced until next July.
"It's great news for Irish exporters" said Carol Lynch, partner at BDO," and gives more time to iron out the details of the requirements where there was still some lack of clarity at an operational level."
While the move will also be welcomed by some in the British logistics industry, the food and drink trade body attacked the government for the late announcement.
New checks on food products had been due to come into force in 17 days.
"The repeated failure to implement full UK border controls on EU imports since January 1, 2021 undermines trust and confidence among businesses," Ian Wright, head of the Food and Drink Federation, said. "Worse, it actually helps the UK's competitors."
The industry argues that while European producers can still sell to Britain without the extra cost and hassle of a full customs border, British producers face the reverse.
First-half sales of food and drink to Germany, Spain and Italy were all down by around half compared with 2019, it says.
The government said it had introduced a new "pragmatic" timetable to give companies time to recover from the pandemic.
British businesses, and customers, have complained in recent months that a shortage of workers in logistics, driving and warehouses has led to long delays in deliveries, with some supermarkets and restaurants struggling to stock a full range.
"Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022," Brexit minister David Frost said.
Britain opted for a full customs border, with checks on goods and lengthy paperwork, due to the nature of the divorce it agreed with Brussels, choosing full autonomy over its regulatory affairs as opposed to a closer alignment with the bloc.