Further delays to post-Brexit import controls: NFU response

Minette Batters Sep 2021

As the government announce more delays to the import controls post-Brexit, the calls continue for a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa. NFU President Minette Batters responds, asking for a level playing field as figures show that UK agri-food exporters are losing out to the EU. Read on to find out more.

The government said it has set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full import controls for goods being imported from the EU to the UK. They insist that the revised timetable will give businesses time to adjust to new processes. The controls will be phased in throughout 2022.

The changes, some of these requirements were only days away, include:

  • The requirements for pre-notification of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 January 2022.
  • The new requirements for Export Health Certificates, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
  • Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at Border Control Posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022.
  • Safety and Security declarations on imports will be required as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022. Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022, as previously announced.

Responding to the announcement NFU President Minette Batters said: “Since the implementation of the EU’s border controls in January, UK agri-food exporters to the EU have lost more than £1.8 billion. Yet while our exporters have been struggling with additional costs and burdens, EU competitors have been given extended grace periods by our own government to maintain access to the UK market relatively burden-free.”

Calls to expand seasonal worker scheme

Minette went to explain, “While further delays to controls on imported EU products may go some way to keep supermarket shelves stocked at a challenging time for the UK supply chain, the current production and supply issues are largely due to workforce availability. That is why the food and farming industry is asking for a 12-month Covid Recovery Visa and to expand and make permanent the Seasonal Workers Scheme. A delay to controls on EU imported products will do little to address supply chain problems, nor the long-term trade frictions farmers are experiencing.”

Crucial to have a level playing field

Negotiators must seek to achieve a level playing field with pragmatic and equitable checks on imports and exports as quickly as possible.

The NFU continues to push for this asymmetric border control issue to be sorted out and for more notice to be given for any changes to delays as we continue to be at a competitive disadvantage with EU competitors.