The UK government has unveiled its new Border Target Operating Model (TOM) as a simplified approach to border inspections that it claims will save companies £400 million per year. After three years of delays, the Cabinet Office claims it has the "firm intention" to launch the first phase of restrictions in October of this year.
The UK Single Trade Window will be live on October 31, 2024, providing merchants with a single point of contact for all relevant information. This should streamline the procedure and eliminate the need to enter the same information many times. Trusted trader pilot begins with "major food importers" on January 31, 2024, and physical examinations begin on the same date with medium- and high-risk foods. The timeframe appears to be ambitious.
Without the system, any products selected for inspection must travel to a border inspection point and may be kept for up to four hours while inspections are performed. Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium: "This basically means I've doubled my distribution costs, while the supermarket distribution and wholesale markets expecting those goods simply won't get them in time."
The most frustrating aspect is that, despite Jenney and others having been in conversations with the government for at least a year, explaining why certain initiatives are necessary, "the UK has backtracked to a highly burdensome administrative process," claims Jenney. "We are proceeding with a half-baked solution that will harm the industry and hold the government directly accountable for fresh produce inflation," Jenney added.