Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy
My written statement on 27 October informed the Senedd of my intentions to delay checks on sanitary and phytosanitary goods due to begin on 1 January 2023 through secondary legislation, which will extend the transitional staging period until 31 January 2024. This legislation will be laid before the Christmas recess.
Engagement with stakeholders on this proposal revealed that respondents broadly understood the need for the extension given the significance of full import checks and supply chain pressures and most expressed general support for the proposed change.
The Senedd will be aware that the UK Government announced a review of border controls in April 2022, with an intention to publish a draft Target Operating Model in autumn 2022 for implementation by the end of 2023. Although aspects of the border regime are devolved, Welsh Government would prefer to see coherent and consistent rules which respect our high standards of biosecurity and Welsh Government officials have been working with their counterparts in the other UK administrations. However the Target Operating Model is not yet finalised and agreed by ministers.
This further extension to the transitional staging period will allow the Welsh Government to continue to work with other UK administrations to finalise and implement the borders Target Operating Model, to ensure a coherent, effective and efficient system of controls.
In addition, the Senedd will be aware that in my written statement on 27 October I also proposed taking this opportunity to introduce pre-notification for certain products imported to Wales from the Republic of Ireland. I have listened carefully to the feedback, particularly the concerns voiced by stakeholders regarding the available time before 1 January 2023 to prepare. I have therefore decided, to postpone the introduction of prenotification on these categories of SPS goods until later in 2023.
Our objective is for all EU imports to be subject to the same pre-notification requirements, so we receive the same vital information as elsewhere in Great Britain. This will safeguard our biosecurity, maintain food safety standards, and ensure traceability of products entering the country. It will also help us to plan border controls infrastructure and operations, which in turn will help to ensure smooth implementation of border controls in Wales.
I have also listened to feedback about the advantages of consistent rules in avoiding trade distortions. Recently I have had constructive discussions with the UK Government on this topic and I will seek to agree a date with them for the introduction of pre-notification for EU imports arriving into the west coast ports.
I would like to confirm that date as soon as possible in the New Year to give plenty of notice to businesses of any future changes. I must however point out that this remains a devolved issue and if necessary the Welsh Government will act independently to safeguard our biosecurity and the health of people, animals and plants in Wales.