Forum focuses on UK import controls

Forum focuses on UK import controls

Members of the logistics and port health sectors have discussed food import controls at the first in a series of stakeholder forums.

More than 20 importers and agents joined one of Britain’s biggest port health authorities in May for insight into controls being performed on goods entering the United Kingdom. 

Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority (SCPHA) hosted its first Port Health Stakeholder Forum at East Suffolk House, Melton, as Britain prepares for new checks on EU goods. 

SCPHA, part of East Suffolk Council, inspects imported food, feed, and animal-origin goods at the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich, and Ipswich for entry into the UK.

Dale Weeding, business relationship officer at SCPHA, who led the event, welcomed people to the first quarterly forum.

“We want to show SCPHA is a facilitator to trade as it upholds legislation to protect public and animal health, as well as carrying out controls on organic products and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, while fully supporting importers who follow the UK’s health standards,” he said. 

Upcoming checks

SCPHA’s panel including operations manager Hannah Panting, technical lead Simon Rowell, technical specialist Andrew Robinson and team leader Dan Longson, answered questions about the checks scheduled to be introduced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on EU imports beginning October 2023. 

As outlined in the draft Border Target Operating Model (BTOM), EU imports will fall into new risk categories which will determine the level of checks required from port health authorities. 

The frequency of controls will be based on the risk from the product and country of origin. This will be implemented between the end of October this year and Oct. 31, 2024. Phytosanitary certificates will be digitized from 2023 with take-up depending on trade partners’ readiness.

Panting said: “The draft BTOM includes a projection of 1 percent to 30 percent of physical checks being required for EU products, depending on their associated risk levels. Our aim is to understand what products fall within the different risk categories proposed.” 

Rowell added: “Although the EU has similar standards to the UK, we must always be aware of potential threats to biosecurity. Now the consultation period with Defra has concluded we will await publication of the final BTOM.” 

The panel also discussed how SCPHA will begin checking products of animal origin imported to Harwich International Port in June, expanding its current remit of examining products of non-animal origin and intercepting illegal pork found by Border Force. 

Trade volumes at Harwich will be monitored over the coming months to ensure that allocated resources fit the demand.

SCPHA will host the next Port Health Stakeholder Forum on July 20. Organizations are invited to register to attend for free through Eventbrite

Trade deals in focus

Meanwhile, a parliamentary inquiry has been launched to look at the impact the government’s post-Brexit trade policy has had – and will have – on food producers, consumers, and businesses.

Following its departure from the European Union, the UK has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia and New Zealand. The UK has also joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. Negotiations are ongoing for FTAs with Canada, India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The inquiry will look at areas including the positive and negative impacts of agreements made so far and the opportunities and risks of future deals as well as food safety, standards and animal welfare.

The Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee is accepting written submissions until July 28.

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