EU contempt laid bare as trade adviser blames border checks delay on Brussels | UK | News

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The Government announced earlier this month it would delay food safety checks by a further six months because a network of 30 border posts to process incoming goods would not be ready on time. British customs were due to begin controlling imports of animal products, live animals and plants and products from April 1, including food considered high-risk such as mince and sausages. The checks, known as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls, require consignments to have the correct documentation and import and health certificates signed by vets on arrival in Britain.

These SPS checks along with customs inspections were expected to take place from July 1 at new designated border control posts (BCPs) on goods entering by sea, road or air.

However, in recent weeks a string of British ports had said the facilities would not be ready in time for the July deadline, partly as a result of complications with the government’s funding of the new infrastructure.

Many were quick to lay the blame on the Government, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trade adviser, Shanker Singham, suggested all this chaos is because of Brussels refusing to do a “mutual recognition agreement” with London.

As it stands, New Zealand appears to have a closer relationship on SPS measures with the EU than Britain, with an agreement that limits checks and simplifies paperwork.

Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy firm Competere, told “New Zealand and the EU have a veterinary agreement on meat products, which is actually a very good agreement.

“It is a mutual recognition agreement of underlying product regulation.

“So, even though New Zealand and the EU have different SPS regimes for meat, they recognise each other’s underlying product regulation.”

The trade expert noted: “So much for the view that the EU doesn’t do mutual recognition… it does.”

According to Mr Singham, there is no reason why Britain cannot have the same agreement with the EU.

He added: “If you do that with New Zealand, which has got a different SPS regime, why would you not do that with the UK, which at the moment has got the same?

“Pretty absurd the EU did not put that in… it’s a very political move and it made no sense.

“But anyway, we will be negotiating such a thing in the future.

“We have a roadmap.

“So it will be quite easy for us to negotiate a similar agreement.”

New Zealand is recognised worldwide as a reliable SPS partner.

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In a document spanning over 1,200 pages, there was also very little mention of financial services: a sector which accounts for seven percent of the UK’s economy and 10 percent of its tax receipts.

Negotiations have therefore started up again, with the hope of a “memorandum of understanding” in place by the end of March.

Outlining the UK’s aims for the talks, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We want to preserve financial stability, market integrity, and the protection of investors and consumers.

“The joint declaration was clear, we are aiming to agree a memorandum of understanding by March.”

The agreement will seek to ensure the two sides continue to have similar regulations going forwards that mean similar standards are upheld both in Britain and on the continent.

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