EU imports and border controls may loosen soon
The national press is reporting that Ministers are considering relaxing post-Brexit border controls on food imports from the EU amid fears of shortages in supermarkets.
Brexit minister Lord Frost is said to be considering a “lighter touch” on certain food imports from 1st April, when goods such as animal and food products will face additional checks.
Frost will also be presenting a series of proposals to cabinet ministers which will include a scaling back of full customs checks which are due to start from 1st July.
From July, all businesses exporting to the UK will be required to complete customs checks on goods, which may also be subject to physical checks.
A senior Government official told The Observer newspaper: “The worry is that if we go ahead with more checks and move to checks on imports, then exporters will not be prepared and on this side we are not ready for that either.”
This follows concerns of a continued decline of exports to EU countries, and Ian Wright CBE, the chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), claimed that food exports had been cut by at least half since the start of January.
He said: “We agree with other trade groups that food exports to the EU have declined by 50 to 60 per cent in January.
“That may be because companies have stockpiled three or four months of goods on the other side of the Channel and they may bounce back, but that is a big number to recover in the next few months.”
Wright added that the UK may be as much as 50,000 customs agents short of what is needed to carry out checks when new import regulations come in to effect.