The UK government confirmed a three-month delay to post-Brexit border checks on European food imports that were due to begin in January 2024.
The checks on “medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food,” which the UK committed to imposing as part of its 2020 Brexit agreement with the European Union, will now be implemented in April 2024, the Cabinet Office said in a statement published on its website on Tuesday.
Bloomberg reported in June that ministers were weighing options to blunt the cost of the checks over fears they could worsen the country’s inflation problem. The measures have already been postponed several times, after the government concluded that they would add at least £1 billion ($1.3 billion) in annual costs to British importers.
The UK also announced new “security and biosecurity controls” that it said would protect citizens from diseases and tackle illegal imports such as firearms and drugs.
The “Border Target Operating Model” will make smarter use of data and technology to increase efficiency for traders, according to the statement.
Cutting inflation has been Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s chief goal this year, although it has defied the Bank of England’s efforts to get it under control. Food has emerged as a greater contributer to inflation than energy, complicating Sunak’s promise to halve it this year.