Current Affairs
Foodstuffs imported from the UK: Importers on tenterhooks

The first consignment of foodstuffs from the UK following Brexit is expected to arrive on Monday while foodstuffs importers are adjusting to Customs procedures to be able to import foodstuffs from the UK.

Television Malta spoke to two major importers of foodstuffs from the UK regarding the impacts of foodstuffs as a result of Brexit, particularly those containing some kind of animal meat.

Although there is no duty payable on UK grown or produced food, each consignment still has to be declared. In addition, those consignments that contain or consist of animal meat have to be approved by a vet before leaving from the UK.

David Aquilina, who is one of the major importers of UK foodstuffs, said the greatest bureaucracy they are facing is that being exercised in the UK because they do not have a sufficient number of vets to deal with the situation.

He said a trailer was expected to have been received in the coming week but yesterday he received an email informing him that this will not contain foodstuffs containing meat such as that of poultry or beef because there are not enough vet to carry out the necessary verifications.

John Schiavone, who supervises the logistics and transport of a foodstuffs importing company, said that because of the UK he has had to devise a Custom system diverse from EU imports and this is causing delays in the import of UK foodstuffs.

He said the process is somewhat complicated and lengthy, over and above the Covid problems, and therefore there are staff shortages in departments and this lengthens the process.

Foodstuffs importers that spoke to Television Malta said that although they had increased their December imports more than the usual because of the Brexit changes, this could not be done on fresh products or those that expire within two weeks. Shops may now suffer shortages of fresh UK products.

Customs said they have introduced new systems for faster processing over a short period of time because the numbers of documents that are now necessary have doubled, and this is to prevent importers experiencing unnecessary delays.

The Director of International Affairs at the Customs Department said that although in most cases the Customs Declaration is made in Malta, the verification of meat foodstuffs has to be made on entry into Europe.

For foodstuffs importers this means that on the arrival of a trailer they have to await verification documents from the UK, on where the consignment concerns the EU as well as on Malta entry.