This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

Director general Marco Forgione giving speech

Commenting on the news that planned border checks on food goods entering Great Britain have been delayed until 31 January 2024, Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT), said:

“IOE&IT welcomes the innovative approach set out in the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM). The shift to risk-based, digital insights and targeting will help with the maintenance of strong security and biosecurity controls.

“The arrival of the BTOM brings in a new digital, process-based approach to trade, which will ultimately lead to low-friction borders, with the red tape and bureaucracy of physical paperwork removed. The passing of the Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023 is further evidence of the ambitious plans to modernise the UK’s systems and processing and to create a world-leading border.

“The Act does away with the archaic system of wet signatures and physical paperwork that has been in place since the 1700s. The digital trade processes now in place mean the UK’s trade will be fit for the 21st century. Full digitalisation of UK trade has the potential to add at least 1% - equivalent to £25bn - to GDP.  

“BTOM should not be looked at in isolation. There are several other key initiatives taking place as part of the 2025 Border Strategy aimed at making the UK border one of the most effective and efficient in the world. This approach has the potential to convert our borders into engines that support economic growth. In addition, we encourage the government to move as fast as possible to implement the findings of the customs initiatives announced in the Spring Budget.

“During the consultation and the development of BTOM we have been speaking with our members, to ensure their views and needs have been represented throughout this process. We know our larger retail members have plans in place to ensure a smooth transition to the new systems. This means that there will be no change in fresh food imports arriving on our supermarket shelves, and the flow of goods will continue into the UK.

“BTOM helps to redress some of the commercial disadvantages that UK businesses have been facing. What’s really important is that UK businesses and those trading into UK markets prepare for these changes.

“The IOE&IT’s focus is on supporting businesses trading with the UK from the EU and the rest of the world to understand the requirements of BTOM and provide practical assistance in complying with the new system.

“The UK can reap the benefits of this world-class new digital border if businesses of all sizes are equipped and armed with the right knowledge. Now is the time to prioritise educating businesses on trading sustainably, safely and securely.”