Farming News - Border Operating Model must deliver level playing field

Border Operating Model must deliver level playing field

12 Mar 2021
Frontdesk / Finance

As the government announces its new Border Operating Model for Great Britain, the NFU urges both the UK and EU to work together to agree long-term arrangements as a matter of priority so trade can flow as smoothly as possible while new border infrastructure and systems are put in place.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “Since 1 January the UK’s agri-food sector has been struggling with the additional costs and burdens that moving goods to the EU now entails. It is therefore frustrating that our government is not taking a similar approach to the treatment of imports coming into Great Britain from the EU.  

“Our exporters face additional costs and run the risk of financial losses if products are turned back or held up at the border, yet today’s announcement means that EU producers will maintain access to the UK market relatively burden-free for a considerable amount of time. It is crucial that we achieve a level playing field with pragmatic checks on imports and exports as quickly as possible.

“However, we also recognise that for certain food products this extension is a necessary step to ensure supermarket shelves remain well stocked. For example, there are some fruit and vegetables that can’t be grown in the UK or that won’t be in season or widely available.

“Live animal imports for breeding will not require checks at Border Control Posts until March next year, which is a pragmatic solution whilst there are still no UK facilities able to host them at the border. We will continue our discussions with ports in both the UK and EU that would be able to suitably support this trade to try to ensure it can continue.

“There remains a lot of outstanding issues that we want the UK and the EU to resolve as part of ongoing relationship discussions. More needs to be done to address the burdens on exporters to the EU, including the digitalisation of outdated paperwork requirements for health and organic certificates, and streamlining physical and administrative checks at the border.

“We also need the continued ban on exports of UK seed potatoes to be urgently addressed. In the meantime, while the ban remains in place, our government must set out how it will support the British growers affected.”

Ian Wright CBE, FDF Chief Executive said: "The FDF welcomes this sensible and pragmatic step to ensure that food and drink continues to flow, and allows manufacturers access to the inputs and ingredients they need in order to continue producing the full range of products for UK shoppers and consumers.
 
“Government must now use this time to do everything it can to support UK food and drink exporters who continue to face huge difficulties moving goods into the EU. They must work constructively with the EU to address barriers to trade by improving the implementation of the trade agreement and streamlining processes.”