Published: 10:41, 12 March 2021
| Updated: 10:45, 12 March 2021
The announcement by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove is designed to give more UK businesses time to prepare after 12 months of disruption due to the pandemic.
KCC leader Roger Gough said the revised timetable for introducing new import rules was "good news for Kent".
It means paperwork checks that were due to be introduced on food and plant imports from April 1 will now come on line in October; and, physical checks that were to be applied to all imported goods from July 1 will now be introduced in January 2022.
Cllr Gough said: "As well as giving Kent business more time to prepare for further rounds of new trade rules, it also gives them a much-needed opportunity to fully focus on recovering from the impacts of lockdown.
“The decision also helps reduce the risk of disruption across the short straits, at Kent ports and across the county’s road network because full inspections were due to come into force in July when, all being well, we hope to see the return of holiday traffic as Covid restrictions continue to ease.
“The adjusted timetable also gives the government more time to prepare its inland border facilities for checks and inspections. We continue to work with our partners on all the measures necessary to keep Kent moving.
"In short, this is good news for Kent.”
A government-managed Border Control Post for animal and plant inspections is currently being built at Sevington, near Ashford. Construction has yet to start on a second control post at White Cliffs, in Dover.
KCC cabinet member for economic development, Mike Whiting, added: “I am pleased to see government has listened to businesses who have faced unprecedent challenges in the face of Covid, coupled with new export trading requirements introduced when the UK left the EU.
“There’s no doubt that the new timetable for further trade rule changes will give Kent firms some space to get back on their feet, and minimise disruption, as the economy gradually opens back up.
“In making the announcement, the Cabinet Office underlined it will continue to give businesses the help they need to trade effectively with the EU, including through export helplines, webinars with experts and support via its network of international trade advisers.
"This is in addition to the recently launched £20million SME Brexit Support Fund, which has been welcomed by KCC as ‘significant’. Kent County Council will also continue to work hard with the county’s business network to support firms – be they established or start-ups - on the road to recovery.”
It comes as figures reveal exports to the EU have plunged since the Brexit transition period ended.