Import controls postponed in policy U Turn

The Government has announced that the remaining import controls on plants and plant products will no longer be introduced in July. DEFRA has suggested that the decision was aimed at helping British businesses to focus on recovering after the pandemic. The announcement has been welcomed for importers by the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) and CEO Sam Brooke said:

“This does not affect existing controls that were introduced in January 2021 and January 2022, or the proposed changes to the frequency of checks or fees which apply for both EU and Rest of World imports and will be implemented in July. However, it is a welcome development that will reduce trading costs and improve the speed at which supply chain can operate.”

The postponements to planned changes that would have come into force in July include import checks of high-priority plants and plant products. These will not be conducted at Border Control Posts (BCPs) and will instead continue to be carried out at the place of destination (PoD).

“Although these changes allow for more readiness time for imports, those exporting to the EU are already subject to full import controls. Therefore, this delay extends the time of significant disadvantage to UK exporters versus those producers in the EU importing into the UK”.

Regulated and notifiable produce will not be subject to import checks from July and will not need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate. Low-risk, Article 73, goods will no longer require pre-notification at the proposed 1% frequency, marketing standards and organic import requirements will also no longer be applied.

“Hopefully this will ensure a smooth import process for those high-priority plants and plant products that are already subject to import controls. It should also allow time for the completion of implementation to the import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFs) and electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePyhto),” concluded Ms Brooke.

DEFRA has said it will publish a ‘Target Operating Model’ in the autumn that will set out its new regime of border import controls and will target the end of 2023 as the revised date for its delivery.

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