New post-Brexit rules for imports, due to be implemented on 1 July, have provoked a mixed reaction.
A trade body is calling for delay while the British Veterinary Association (BVA) says delays to checks risk allowing infectious animal diseases into the country.
The Independent news website earlier this week that the Government is exploring a delay to new controls on imports from the EU because of growing alarm over the cost of living crisis.
The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) checks coming into force on 1 July will see inspections on imported agri-food and plant products and live animal products, adding an estimated £1 billion to the costs of trade.
Shane Brennan, Chief Executive of the Cold Chain Federation, giving evidence to the UK Trade & Business Commission, said the checks would be a “nightmare” for small businesses – calling for the Government to push them back.
The food industry chief warned of a potential collapse in trade among small volume British businesses if the new checks are imposed in the summer.
What do the new rules include?
But the BVA has warned that Government plans to delay checks on EU agri-food and live animal imports could risk allowing devastating infectious diseases, such as African swine fever into the country.
The already-delayed rules include a requirement for veterinary certificates and potential spot checks on agrifood imported from the EU.
However, the Government is said to be considering a fourth delay to the introduction of SPS checks because of already mounting supply issues and the cost-of-living crisis.
James Russell, the Senior Vice President of the BVA, will tell the international trade select committee this month that dropping checks would have serious consequences for UK biosecurity and affect trade as it would damage the trust that overseas businesses have in UK produce, The Observer newspaper reported.
“If these controls are dropped there is a potential risk of an incursion of African swine fever which is spreading rapidly and has already had a catastrophic impact on animal health and agricultural industry in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa,” he said.
‘Dramatic decline’ in exports
Brexit Opportunities Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, is reported to have asked Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to extend the grace period for EU imports to require SPS checks.
Mr Brennan told the commission that exports from the UK had seen a “dramatic decline” when checks were introduced and that the same could be expected for imports from 1 July.
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