Report of the Director of Consumer Protection and Markets Operations.
The Committee was informed that the United Kingdom (UK) had left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020 and that the country was currently in a transition period until the end of 2020. During the transition period, arrangements and controls at the UK border would not change.
The Committee was further informed that there will be a phased introduction of controls at the border for imports from the EU. From January 2021this will include checks associated with live animals, organics and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Checks on high risk food and feed both of animal origin and non-animal origin will commence in April 2021. The City of London is waiting for confirmation of the level and frequency of checks that will be required on EU imports. Current border controls for products imported into the UK from outside of the EU will remain unchanged. The City of London needed to be prepared for all eventualities and, as a result, had made a number of funding bids including to the Food Standards Agency for staffing resources.
Additionally, the Committee were informed that the Government wanted to establish a number of freeports, which have different customs rules to the rest of the country, that are innovative hubs, boost global trade, attract inward investment and increase productivity. In doing so, the Government wants freeports to generate employment opportunities to the benefit of some of our most deprived communities around the UK.
A Member queried if there was a legal view on the World Trade Organization rules for EU goods coming into the UK. Officers advised the Committee that the Government would lead on this, but that the Department of Markets and Consumer Protection was engaged with the relevant Government Departments regarding the negotiations.
Another Member asked if any of the City of London’s supply routes and staffing around Brexit were impacted due to COVID-19 and if this had been factored into the City of London’s risk assessments. The Port Health and Public Protection Director informed the Committee that a number of measures have been put in place and that trade continued to flow in through the ports.
Members were informed that risk assessments are in place and are regularly updated, this includes Port Operatives working from home where possible, working in ‘pods’ and ensuring that staff are adequately supplied with PPE.
The department is still awaiting news on the infrastructure funding for port operators.
RESOLVED – Members noted the content of the report.