Government action urged as imports deadline approaches

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Wednesday 27 March 2024

Trade group Logistics UK has called for the government to prevent a “supply chain breakdown” by clarifying border arrangements prior to the introduction of physical checks on EU imports next month.

From 30 April, the government plans to introduce documentary, physical and identity checks at the border for certain goods coming in from the EU, including medium-risk animal products, plants and plant products.

The changes, which will not apply to west coast ports, are a further consequence of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

But Logistics UK has warned that delays could be significant, as could the knock-on effect this could have on imports of food from Europe moving forwards, unless the government takes steps to clarify arrangements.

“For the past seven years, since the Brexit vote, the logistics industry has been urging government to clarify all the arrangements which will be needed to move goods smoothly across the UK’s border with the EU,” said Nichola Mallon, Logistics UK’s head of trade.

“Yet despite ongoing representations to the government’s departments involved in the new border arrangements, which will see more changes introduced at the end of next month, our members are still in the dark when it comes to critical information about how the new Border Target Operating Model is to work.

“We are one month away from the introduction of physical checks on EU imports and government has still not told our members – businesses which move all the food and other goods in the supply chain – what import charges it will apply on every consignment they bring across the border and how this Common User Charge will be administered.

“Concerns still remain within our industry about the capabilities and capacity at border control posts to efficiently process these perishable goods. These are business-critical issues which will impact the movement of goods across the UK’s borders and, potentially, into stores and homes nationwide.”

The trade group cites the British Retail Consortium in suggesting that around 30 per cent of all food in the UK comes from the EU, including almost half of the fresh vegetables and the majority of fresh fruit.

Crucial information still needs to be provided to logistics businesses moving goods from UK, to ensure that supplies do not run short and shelves are not left empty, Ms Mallon warned.

“Fresh produce cannot be left languishing in vehicles for long periods of time – we need to be able to move it effectively to our customers with as little delay as possible,” she continued.

“Add in the challenge of negotiating traffic jams caused by holiday traffic, and the introduction of the new EU Entry/Exit System at the Short Straits planned for October, and the risks to supply chains and potential for product shortages in supermarkets becomes very real.

“Logistics operators need the support of government to ensure that the UK’s borders do not become a barrier to the movement of goods.”