Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has told the logistics industry to prepare for stricter border controls from January 1 2021 when the post-Brexit transition period ends and the UK leaves the EU customs union and single market.

Gove admitted that a new ‘smart’ border to cut post-Brexit trade friction with the EU will not be ready until 2025, raising concern that trade will be disrupted and exporters and importers will face big costs at the end of the year.

Speaking to representatives of lobby groups, Gove said UK-EU trade won’t get preferential treatment after the transition period. He confirmed that Britain would introduce import controls on EU goods from the start of 2021, treating them in the same way as imports from any third country.

This tough stance could mean extra costs and delays for companies importing goods into the UK from Europe.

Speaking on Monday, Gove said: “The UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union, so we will have to be ready for the customs procedures and regulatory checks that will inevitably follow.”

He told hauliers that from 2021 there would be “symmetry” and that the UK would impose the same checks and customs procedures on EU goods entering Britain as the bloc conducted on exports from the UK. Authorities on both sides of the border will collect customs, value added tax and excise duties and check the safety of goods.

UK government officials said that by 2025 Britain would have the “best, smartest and most efficient border in the world”, but in the meantime industry should prepare for significant friction to trade.

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