UK abandons plan to introduce full border checks with EU on January 1: FT

(Reuters) – The United Kingdom has abandoned its plan to introduce full border checks with the European Union on Jan. 1 as British ministers face pressure from businesses not to increase chaos already caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

Instead, Britain will introduce a temporary “light-touch regime” at ports such as Dover for incoming EU goods, the newspaper reported, adding that this will happen whether or not there is a Brexit free trade agreement with the EU.

The newspaper said that officials have conceded, however, that goods flowing to the EU from the UK could face full checks as they enter France.

Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 and has made very little progress in talks about a trade deal, negotiators have said.

The Financial Times cited unidentified officials as saying an announcement could be made as soon as Friday on the border checks ahead of Britain’s plan to ramp up preparations for a no-deal scenario in July.

The approach will be similar to no-deal arrangements drawn in September last year, which prioritised flow of goods over border formalities, the FT said.

Agricultural goods will not enter Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) in or near the port and animal products may not immediately be required to have health certificates, according to the plans reported by the newspaper.

The plans will let only controlled goods face immediate checks whereas industrial goods are expected to benefit from transitional measures delaying the need for customs declarations and postpone customs duty payments.

The development marks a turn from February when Britain said it planned to introduce import controls on EU goods at the border after its post-Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31.

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