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UK Delays Brexit Border Checks on Food as Grocery Stores Struggle to Stock Shelves

The United Kingdom will postpone the start of Brexit border checks on food imports from the European Union until July 2022, said Brexit minister David Frost in a statement on Tuesday.

The goal of delaying some Brexit protocols is to give businesses more time to adjust and prevent the current food shortage in the U.K. from getting worse. Europe supplies 30% of all food eaten in the U.K., according to the British Retail Consortium.

"Businesses have faced a range of challenges over recent months as they recover from the global pandemic, which has impacted supply chains across Europe," the statement reads. "This is being felt particularly by the agri-food sector, where new requirements on importing products of animal origin were due to be introduced from next month."

While paperwork and checks for European agricultural and animal products will not be introduced until next year, customs declarations and controls are on track to start Jan. 1 as originally scheduled. According to the Associated Press, the U.K.'s Food and Drink Federation warns of permanent food shortages regardless of delaying Brexit regulations. Chief Executive Ian Wright accused the government of blindsiding businesses that had prepared for checks.

"This move penalizes those who followed government advice and rewards those who ignored it," Wright said. "The asymmetric nature of border controls facing exports and imports distorts the market and places many U.K. producers at a competitive disadvantage with EU producers." 

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021