While the UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March this year, there remains continued uncertainty about what the eventual Brexit deal will look like and how this might impact on day to day business activities. As such, we are constantly reviewing the potential implications for customers and actively putting in place plans to help them navigate any ‘no deal’ scenario.
One of the most current pressing issues is ISPM15 compliance. As things stand, timber packaging shipped between the UK and EU is exempt from ISPM15 regulations due to reciprocal arrangements. However, in the event of the UK leaving the EU with no deal, these arrangements will be void, meaning every UK business that either exports or imports products using timber packaging must ensure that it is ISPM15 compliant. Effectively, goods arriving at European or UK ports on or after March 29th could be held at customs if they are not ISPM15 compliant.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the UK will request ISPM15 compliant packaging from the EU as per WTO rules, but will conduct inspections on a plant health risk basis. Currently, Defra, TIMCON and the UK timber packaging industry are seeking assurances from their European counterparts that they will adopt a similarly pragmatic approach.
This is an evolving situation and while full clarity remains elusive, given the time factors associated with supply, manufacturing and shipping in the supply chain, we would advise companies exporting products from the UK into the EU, that are not using ISPM15 compliant wooden pallets & packaging, to reconsider their position immediately.
Our view, based on the DEFRA statement and ISPM15 requirements under WTO rules, is that it would be prudent to start planning to switch to ISPM15 compliant products now to mitigate any risk, at least in the short-term, until the exit deal and/or guidance from the EU on ISPM15 is fully clarified.
For businesses looking for further insight on the issue, the Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) has published guidance here. Similarly, further information from Gov.UK can also be found here.
We would like to take this opportunity to reassure customers that whatever the outcome of Brexit, it is our overriding aim to minimise any disruption and ensure continuity of supply whilst maintaining the high level of service they have come to expect from us.
In the meantime, rest assured, we will continue to monitor this situation closely and keep customers fully updated on any further developments.