Publication of the new Border Target Operating Model

TODAY, the UK Government published the new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-border-target-operating-model-august-2023) setting out the future approach to safety and security controls (applying to all imports), and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls (applying to imports of live animals, germinal products, animal products, plants, and plant products) at the borders of Great Britain. I am pleased that it has finally been published.

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The Welsh Government, acting on advice from the Chief Veterinary Officer, the Chief Plant Health Officer, and the Food Standards Agency, has agreed the framework set out in the BTOM. This framework has been developed over many months of collaboration between the Welsh, Scottish and UK Governments. A summary of the expert advice accompanies this written statement.

There are clear benefits from having a coherent regime across Great Britain – not only in the interests of our collective biosecurity, but also in avoiding unnecessary complications for traders. As a result of our involvement, we have secured a model which works for Wales.

The new controls will be phased in, with the first of the SPS controls applying from January 2024, rather than October 2023 as outlined in the draft BTOM published in April 2023. We have reluctantly accepted this delay, but it is important that there are no further delays.

As well as the requirement for export health and phytosanitary certification, the Welsh Government will introduce the requirement to pre‑notify some additional categories of SPS goods imported from the Republic of Ireland in January 2024. This requirement has already been in place for similar EU imports elsewhere in GB since January 2022.

The draft BTOM did not propose a date for the introduction of physical checks on imports for goods from Ireland. The final BTOM confirms that it will be no earlier than 31 October 2024. I will make a further announcement as soon as possible, once the three Governments have had the opportunity to agree the date for physical checks to begin at our west coast ports.

I want to see at least a year’s notice for businesses affected, which will also allow the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the relevant local authorities in north and west Wales, covering the ports of Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock, to properly plan and recruit. In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with them and the ports as the new regulations and supporting facilities are put in place.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.

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