Revised import timetable: government and industry must make good use of extra time, says Logistics UK

The government’s extension of the deadline for the introduction of checks and customs declarations on imports to the UK from the EU has been welcomed by Logistics UK, the business group representing the sector. New checks (known as sanitary and phytosanitary checks) on products of animal origin, as well as full customs declarations at the point of importation for goods coming from the EU are to be postponed by six to nine months, as announced by Michael Gove MP in parliament today. And, as Sarah Laouadi, European policy manager explains, this delay will ease the administrative burden on logistics organisations currently working to supply the UK through COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Logistics UK.

“Alleviating pressures on the supply chain caused by the current pandemic remains the priority for our sector,” she says. “Today’s announcement acknowledges the challenges and mounting compliance pressure created by multiple Covid-19 lockdowns and regulations across different European nations. By moving the deadline for the introduction of extra import formalities on goods coming to the UK, the government is providing more time for businesses and authorities to adapt to the upcoming extra requirements, for example by training staff, designing robust business processes to interact with new IT systems and agreeing a new allocation of roles and responsibilities with their supply chain partners. This will protect the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain to keep the nation supplied with the goods and services it needs.

“It is imperative that governments and industry now work hand in hand to make the best possible use of this extra time, to raise the level of readiness for checks both in the UK and in the EU. In particular, Logistics UK is pushing the UK government for a much bigger focus on end-to-end provision of guidance to ease the import process and enhanced engagement with traders, but also hauliers, on both sides of the UK’s border.“

Initially, the UK Government intended to phase in new sanitary and phytosanitary import formalities for a large number of products of animal origin on 1 April. Full customs declarations for all imports without any deferment option were to be required from 1 July, as would physical checks at border control posts on so called agrifood products. As Ms Laouadi concludes, “Today’s announcement will mean that businesses have an extra six to nine months – depending on products – to prepare for these two deadlines while fast-moving Covid-19-related rules hopefully stabilise and are phased out.”

Logistics UK (formerly FTA) is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. For more information about the organisation and its work, including its ground-breaking research into the impacts of COVID-19 on the whole supply chain, please visit logistics.org.uk

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