The UK has delayed post-Brexit checks on EU food imports for a third time, with the new red tape now set to come in at the end of 2023.
Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg made the announcement today, saying it was not the right time to introduce more checks while the Ukraine war was already creating global economic disruption.
The new checks – which would have been on animal and plant products – would have come in on 1 July.
“Today’s decision will allow British businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic, navigate global supply chain issues and ensure that new costs are not passed on to consumers,” Rees-Mogg said.
“It’s vital that we have the right import controls regime in place, so we’ll now be working with industry to review these remaining controls so that they best suit the UK’s own interests.
“We want the process for importing goods from the EU to be safe, secure and efficient and we want to harness innovative new technologies to streamline processes and reduce frictions. It’s precisely because of Brexit that we’re able to build this UK-focussed system.”
Brussels applied full customs checks on all British goods being shipped to the trading bloc from 1 January 2021, however the UK wanted to give EU exporters more time to adjust to the new rules.
The majority of new customs rules have now been implemented by the UK government, however checks on things like live animals, agrifoods and chilled meats have not yet been brought in.
A Downing Street spokesperson said that British businesses had been “significantly affected by Ukraine” and that it was not the right time to bring in the new import checks.
They also said that “ports will benefit from streamlined processes and less congestion”.
“We are signalling the flexibility the UK government has to decide how and when to introduce this approach,” they said.
“We think there is more work to do on a new model that better utilises data and technology.”