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UK’s new border target operating model welcomed by Welsh Government

In a recent statement issued by Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for the Economy, the Welsh Government expressed its contentment over the publication of the new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) by the UK Government.

The BTOM, which delineates the UK’s upcoming approach to safety, security controls for all imports, and notably the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls for particular imports such as live animals, plants, and animal products, has garnered the support of the Welsh authorities.

This model has been formulated over several months and signifies a joint effort of the Welsh, Scottish, and UK Governments. “The framework has been developed over many months of collaboration between the Welsh, Scottish and UK Governments,” said Gething, who also added that a summary of expert advice is available with the statement.

A significant highlight of the BTOM is the emphasis on maintaining a coherent regime across Great Britain. This is not only vital for safeguarding our collective biosecurity but is crucial to avert unnecessary complications for traders. Minister Gething remarked, “As a result of our involvement, we have secured a model which works for Wales.”

Interestingly, while the draft BTOM slated the first of the SPS controls to commence in October 2023, the new controls are now scheduled to begin in January 2024. Addressing this shift, Gething stated, “We have reluctantly accepted this delay, but it is essential that there are no further delays.”

In addition to existing regulations, starting from January 2024, there will be a new requirement to pre-notify certain categories of SPS goods imported from the Republic of Ireland. This aligns with the norms that have been operational for similar EU imports elsewhere in GB since the start of 2022.

One of the most anticipated aspects of the BTOM was the timeline for the introduction of physical checks on imports for goods from Ireland. The latest update confirms that these checks will not commence any earlier than 31st October 2024. Gething reassured that he will provide a subsequent announcement about the exact date once all the governments arrive at a consensus.

A significant stress was laid on providing ample notice for businesses that would be impacted, ensuring that key agencies and local authorities, especially in the regions of Holyhead, Fishguard, and Pembroke Dock, have adequate time for planning and recruitment.

Minister Gething concluded his statement by acknowledging its release during recess and assured members that he would be available to offer further insights or address any queries when the Senedd reconvenes.