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Minister Speech: Insights on the Border Target Operating Model in 2024

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State, delivered a speech discussing new SPS border policies and innovations in 2024.

The government is also introducing health certification on imports of medium risk animal products from the EU, as well as similar certification for medium risk plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the European Union. By the end of April, new Border Control Posts will be established to check high and medium risk food and plant products when they arrive, while controls on low and medium risk products from the rest of the world are removed or reduced in line with the new model.

UK Single Trade Window

The government is also using the opportunity to harness technology and new ways of working to streamline trade. They have partnered with industry to test the border process to see how technology can cut costs and save time. The main breakthrough is the new UK Single Trade Window, developed by HMRC in collaboration with Deloitte and IBM.

When fully operational, it will provide one digital gateway for users, where they can provide all the data needed to trade and apply for licenses and authorizations for trusted trader schemes.

The benefits from the Single Trade Window are considerable, as it will make an enormous number of transactions easier and reduce total burdens of business by around a billion pounds in the first three years of operation. The government is not ruling out introducing further innovations, and they are continuing to partner with industry to make this happen.

Ecosystems of Trust Pilot

As part of the delivery of the Border Strategy, the government has carried out six Ecosystem of Trust pilot projects, which found new ways that tech and data can be used to minimize trade friction. These pilots were a collaboration between central government departments, ports, logistics companies, software providers, and businesses like those represented.

The first phase of these pilots ran last year, and a full evaluation of these pilots has been published. The projects tested data and technologies that could provide thorough assurance to the government, such as Smart Seals, which can detect any unauthorised access to freight, and Smart Containers, which transmit real-time data on freight. The government also tested new ways of sharing data between government and industry, giving frontline border staff better and earlier information about the goods they saw coming in, which could cut the time spent determining which goods to check by up to a fifth.

Ecosystems of Trust Implementation

The UK government is implementing the Ecosystem of Trust project, which aims to improve the border experience for traders and industry. The project will be a series of 'Border Trade Demonstrators', which will be data-focused, allowing for easier exchanges of information between border agents and industry, leading to a safer and quicker experience at the border.

One example of this is the increase in machinery exports from Spain to Turkey, which has led to a need for clearer descriptions of goods in shipping containers. This can lead to delays and increased costs for businesses and border personnel. To address this issue, the government is trialing a new software that will allow border agents to receive accurate information from the supply chain earlier in the process, including commodity codes.

The demonstrators will start being trialled early next year at specific parts of the border, with the aim of testing this new approach at different locations, modes, and moving different commodities. If successful, they will be spread throughout the country.

More trade route

In the meantime, the Cabinet Office is working on fixing existing issues to make the border work better. For example, the government has opened a new ferry link between the Spanish Vigo and Cheshire’s Ellesmere Port, which will reduce CO2 emissions by 30%. Additionally, the government is running a pilot with DHL, testing a simplified airfreight export customs process at Heathrow, which will prevent freight from being driven unnecessarily around the airport.

Safety and Security

By the end of October, safety and security declarations will be required for imports from the EU, providing more information to identify security threats to the UK. The government is working with trading partners and issuing guidance to ensure businesses are ready for these changes.

More strategic trade

The UK borders may be historic, but they are also modern demonstrations of how the government is promoting trade. Once these plans are in place, the government will bring innovations to its borders that will be unmatched by the rest of the world. By harnessing Brexit freedoms and utilizing technical advances, the trading infrastructure will support traders and enable safer and more strategic trade.

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