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UK faces food supply crunch as new customs rules come into effect

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The UK could face food supply shortages as new, post-Brexit custom rules are set to take effect on January 1. (File photo)

The United Kingdom could face food supply shortages as new post-Brexit customs rules for goods arriving in Britain from the European Union have come into effect.

According to the new rules, importers must make a full customs declaration on the goods coming from the EU or other nations starting Saturday, local news outlets reported.

In addition, businesses will no longer be allowed to defer completing full import customs declarations for up to 175 days — a measure that was introduced to cope with the disruption of Brexit.

The country’s leading food industry body, British Frozen Food Federation, announced earlier in the week that the new restrictions on animal and plant products from the EU could lead to major delays at ports in the New Year since certain elements in the supply chain — particularly logistics companies on the EU side — may not be prepared for the changes.

“We are concerned that not enough planning has been done to ensure the new requirements are understood by everyone in the food supply chain,” said the federation’s Chief Executive Richard Harrow as quoted in the reports.

“With only days to go before the new rules, we remain concerned that January could be a fraught month for our members,” Harrow added.

The development comes amid reports that most people in the UK are complaining that the government has not made good on its arrangements for exiting the EU other than just going through the exit, with fishing, farming, and financial regulations still up in the air.

A new poll released this week – a year after the UK left the EU -- found that more than six in 10 British voters believe Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected.

According to the survey conducted by the Opinium, 42 percent of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit has turned out.

Moreover, 86 percent of people who voted in favor of remaining said it had gone badly or worse than they expected. Overall, only 14 percent of all voters were satisfied and said that Brexit had gone better than expected.

Also, official data released in December showed that Britain's economic recovery from pandemic fallout slowed more sharply than previously thought in the third quarter even prior to the arrival of the Omicron variant.

The country’s Gross Domestic Product grew 1.1 percent in the July-September period as the economy reopened, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in a statement on December 22.

That compared with the prior estimate of 1.3 percent, and followed a downwardly-revised 5.4 percent growth in the second quarter as global supply disruptions hurt businesses.

British economists further predict the slowdown will extend into the fourth quarter due to recent curbs aimed at tackling the spread of the Omicron coronavirus strain that emerged in November as surging inflation and a Bank of England interest rate hike will also weigh in.


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