Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy
I’m writing to inform the Senedd that I intend to delay checks on sanitary and phytosanitary goods due to begin on 1st January 2023 through secondary legislation, which will extend the transitional staging period until 31 January 2024.
Border controls on plants, animals and products of animal origin were due to come into force on 1 January 2023 but the UK Government announced a radical review of the GB border regime in April. We look forward to analysing conclusions in its Target Operating Model in order to assess the infrastructure requirements, resource implications and delivery timetable. Meanwhile it is necessary to legislate to delay the introduction of checks as it would otherwise be unlawful to import these goods into Welsh ports except through designated Border Control Posts which we do not yet have.
Importers will be anticipating this extension as the UK announcement committed to no new checks until the end of 2023 whilst current legislation postponing these checks expires on 31 December 2022. I am fully expecting these checks to be postponed elsewhere in GB too.
In addition, I am taking this opportunity to introduce pre-notification for products travelling to Wales from the Republic of Ireland. The UK Government’s decision to waive the pre-notification requirement for imports of certain products travelling on these routes has left the Welsh Government and local authority partners with a significant data gap. It puts us at a significant disadvantage compared to the other administrations in Great Britain making decisions in relation to imports from EU countries and undertaking impact assessments on emerging policies.
The ability to examine incoming information, to seek to detect, and to intervene where necessary, thus ensuring a degree of biosecurity assurance is of the utmost importance whilst full border controls are not in place. Introducing pre-notification to address the data deficiency gap will also allow Welsh Government and our partners to ensure future border infrastructure and staff resources are appropriate to meet expected demand and provide value-for-money for importers, taxpayers and consumers.
Importers will be familiar with pre-notification as they will have prepared for its introduction in January 2022 and again in July 2022 although it was postponed at rather short notice. Those who import from the EU continent into England or from elsewhere in the world will also be familiar with the process. Pre-notification requires limited data input through the Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) and there is no requirement for any additional paperwork or health certification. Whilst the burdens on importers are minimal this data would be extremely valuable to officials and relevant enforcement authorities, such as local authorities.
I am writing to stakeholders to ask for comments on these proposals.