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New importers warned of costly risks

Businesses turning to importing as a way of diversifying income streams during the coronavirus pandemic must not turn a blind eye to product certification, a Shropshire company has warned.

Global Freight Services, based in Telford, has assisted businesses across the county and further afield for more than 20 years with importation of goods from around the world.

But the company is witnessing an unprecedented rise in inquiries from businesses new to importing and managing director Anton Gunter is concerned many are neglecting to check whether products have the required certification to pass through UK ports and customs checks.

“The current coronavirus pandemic is impacting on businesses large and small and as a result many are looking to diversify their income streams to remain operational.

“Some are turning to importing and reselling and whilst this kind of flexibility and resilience is to be applauded, we are becoming concerned that some people who are new to importing and international trade are not doing their research properly and are purchasing goods from abroad which don’t have the proper certification.

“This is certainly the case for PPE products and without the correct certification, importers risk having their goods held up at ports and airports. In some cases goods are not being released because they fail to meet UK safety standards.

“If this happens the importer risks losing considerable amounts of money, not just on the purchase of goods but also on import fees and subsequent charges associated with disposing of the products. We’re aware the Government had taken steps to relax certification requirements on some goods including PPE products to make importation easier in current circumstances, but in practice there does seem to be difficulties.

Mr Gunter urged those new to importing to seek expert advice before making costly financial decisions to purchase and import goods.

The warning comes amid reports of an 84-tonne shipment of PPE being impounded in a Government warehouse near Heathrow Airport because of non-compliance with UK safety regulations. The consignment, which contains 400,000 medical gowns, was flown from Turkey to the UK.

Pictured: Anton Gunter, managing director of Telford-based Global Freight Services

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