Clarity on New Border Checks is Vital
THE British Chambers of Commerce is urging Government to clarify plans around new customs processes, due to start on Wednesday, as firms remain in the dark about crucial aspects of their operation.
The first phase of the UK’s Border Target Operating Model will begin on January 31, with imports of plant and animal products now requiring export health certificates.
It will be the first time for decades that EU firms will have to provide this documentation for goods they are sending to Great Britain, and it is unclear how prepared they are for the change.
But of more concern is a lack of clarity around physical checks of consignments, due to start in April, and the cost of new charges for overseas imports, to help pay for the system.
Government figures show the UK imports just under 30% of all the food it consumes from the EU.
William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the BCC, said:
“The Government is finally implementing major changes to Great Britain’s inbound border controls and customs checks stemming from Brexit, but there are still unanswered questions around its plans. Especially, as businesses are already facing a tough start to the year, with container shipping prices quadrupling as the Red Sea disruption continues.
“The initial changes this week should not cause many noticeable hold ups for inbound goods, although EU firms will be facing new charges to get export health certificates and will need to find vets to sign them.
“The bigger issue is physical checks on a proportion of these imports, which are due to start in April. But the Government still hasn’t said what will happen if goods coming into the UK don’t have the paperwork they need.
“Will they be stopped from entering or will they be followed up afterwards? This could lead to hold ups with deliveries if it’s not handled properly.
“There is also the matter of the common usage charge that will be made for consignments. The Government has estimated the new border system will cost UK businesses £330m a year but we still don’t know how much EU exporters will be charged to send goods.
“And there is a real fear that these extra costs will end up being passed on to the UK importer and their customers, putting upward pressure on inflation.
“Many smaller businesses in the EU may also look at the new paperwork and costs and decide selling products to Britain is just not worth it.
“There’s clearly a communication challenge, and we think the UK Government and the EU need to do more. Until businesses on both sides of the Channel have all the information it’s very difficult for them to plan ahead.
“With interest rates still high, inflation double its 2% target and supply chain disruption continuing to build, this uncertainty is the last thing firms need.”
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