Government right to extend import grace period but a sign of wider trade failures – Carmichael

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has said that news today that the Government will postpone new import checks on goods from the EU an additional six months was necessary, but reflected wider failures in the Government’s negotiations and preparations for changes to trade.

UK border authorities were set to begin requesting Sanitary & Phytosanitary (SPS) paperwork for animal and plant goods in April, before introducing the full range of customs, health and security paperwork three months later, but these have now been delayed. The Government has not secured reciprocal grace periods for UK exports to the EU.

The Office of National Statistics has just announced that UK exports to the EU dropped 40.7% in January compared to the previous year.

Mr Carmichael said:

“Extending the grace period for imports from the EU is the right thing to do, but it speaks to a deeper failure on the part of the Government. They have failed again and again to prepare adequately for the consequences of their own policies, and they have failed again and again to secure a grace period for our own exports to the EU. None of this was inevitable but it was created by this Government’s incompetence.”

He continued:

“The ONS figures today are stark: a 40% drop in exports to the EU is a huge fall. Even if some of that can be attributed to short-term challenges it should be a serious cause for reflection.

“Importing businesses, including some in the isles, will be glad for longer period to prepare for checks and trade barriers. They will be frustrated, however, that ministers are once again doing the right thing after exhausting all alternatives. It is time for the Government to seek a proper sanitary and phytosanitary agreement with the EU so that we can give businesses on all sides some confidence.”

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