What is the new Border Target Operating Model?
How does it affect the UK food supply?
The UK Government has published its plans to implement its new Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) from 31 October 2023.
The BTOM applies to imports into the UK from all countries; and, for the first time, also incorporates the EU, whose imports into the UK have so far not faced the complete burden of sanitary and phytosanitary checks. These are trade checks to eliminate fraud and ensure that food is safe to eat and that animals and plants are free from pests and diseases.
The implementation has long been called for by many. Not only has the EU not faced the same level of border controls into the UK as other countries, which is technically illegal, but there has also been a sense of unfairness as expressed by the National Farmers Union (NFU) because UK trade exports to the EU have been facing comprehensive border checks since 01 January 2021.
What does the new model include?
The new model will involve a risk-based categorisation of foods into low, medium and high risk. The impact on low risk foods such as fruit, vegetables and ambient goods is likely negligible. However, imports of medium and high-risk foods such as dairy and meat will involve much-increased trade friction and cost with the requirements of veterinary inspections, agent and specialist haulier fees, and will be compounded by the imposition of border inspection charges.
While the effects of the BTOM may not be apparent, changes will lead to longer supply chains, increased cost, and less choice.
On a positive note, for UK producers at least, it may also lead to a better trade balance with greater self-sufficiency and domestic supply.