U.K. Retailers Prepare for Delay to Brexit Import Checks
The U.K.’s retail and hospitality industry is expecting the government to delay looming new post-Brexit import checks on food as it battles with supply shortages and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
From Oct. 1, food imported from the European Union would require extra paperwork to legally enter Britain -- and more stringent physical border checks start from January. But businessmen are all but certain that these deadlines will be pushed back, according to three people familiar with the matter, who are involved in government discussions on border preparations.
“Businesses should continue to prepare for new import checks in October and January,” the U.K. government said in a statement Wednesday, when asked if it is considering a delay to the checks. Earlier, the PoliticsHome website reported that British officials are debating a delay to the new import rules.
The new post-Brexit import requirements, which were deferred from the start of the year to give businesses more time to prepare, were due to take effect with Britain’s supermarkets and restaurants are struggling with food supplies. There are fewer lorry drivers to transport goods, and the outcome are empty shelves and rising costs.
A quarter of all food consumed in the U.K. comes from the EU, so the stakes are high. Marks & Spencer Group Plc, one of the U.K.’s largest retailers, warned of significant disruption to food imports due to the upcoming Brexit changes, according to a letter to its suppliers reported by the Times newspaper.
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