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EU and US conclude negotiations on agricultural quotas 

EU and US conclude negotiations on agricultural quotas 


The European Union and the United States have reached an agreement to adjust the European Union’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) agricultural quotas, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This is the culmination of two years of negotiations in the WTO framework to divide these EU quotas, with part of the volume remaining with the EU 27, and part going to the UK, based on recent trade flows. The agreement covers dozens of quotas and billions of euros of trade including for beef, poultry, rice, dairy products, fruits and vegetables and wines.

Commenting on the agreement reached in principle, Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciejowski said: “I am delighted we have reached agreement with our most important trade partner the US. This agreement – done inside the framework of the WTO – preserves the original volumes but shares them between the EU and the UK. It gives certainty and stability to agricultural trade and our markets. I am particularly pleased that this agreement marks the significance of our trade and economic relationship. This sends a good signal of our commitment to work together both bilaterally and in the WTO framework. I want to thank my team and our US colleagues for a job well done”.

The EU is conducting similar tariff rate quotas (TRQ) apportionment negotiations with twenty-one other partners having rights to access these quotas, and has concluded negotiations already with Argentina, Australia, Norway, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia and others.

Once the Commission has adopted the EU-US Agreement, it will then be sent to the Council and European Parliament for ratification, so that it can enter into force as soon as possible.


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Freshfel and FPC urge UK government to extend derogations on phytosanitary certifications 

Effects of a no-deal Brexit?
Press Release

The impact of Brexit is a big challenge for businesses on both sides of the Channel with EU27 exports representing over 3 million tons of fresh fruit and vegetables to the UK, 40% of the UK’s internal demand. The sector is already facing additional annual costs of at least €55 million as a result of the adaptation to new administration, customs and trading processes. From 1 April, the cost of official inspections and of the issuance of over 750,000 phytosanitary certificates  (PCs) will be added to this economic and administrative burden, a threat which may significantly hamper the capacity of the industry to continue ‘just in time’ operations of highly perishable produce. In this context, Freshfel Europe and FPC have addressed a letter to the RT Hon Michael Gove expressing the concerns of the sector about the introduction of a requirement for PCs from 1 April.

In their letter Freshfel Europe and FPC argue that this requirement will mean more than three quarters of EU fresh produce exports to the UK will require a phytosanitary certificate (approx. 2.5 million tons). This will be a herculean effort for both the sector and public administrations, as at least 750,000 PCs will have to be issued on an annual basis to support this trade. The reason is that whilst some bigger operators may issue a single PC per truck (e.g.  for  exports  of  big  categories  such  as  apples),  most  EU27-UK  trade  is  highly fragmented with consignments addressed to many small customers and wholesalers and often carrying over 10 PCs per truck. This requirement will therefore lead to significant delays in orders, to blockages both at departure and arrival, and generate losses of quality and food waste. This will also add costs to the already fatigued fresh fruit and vegetables businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic effects.

Freshfel Europe and FPC therefore urge the UK to introduce derogations to the almost systematic obligation of a PC for fresh produce trade across the English Channel taking into account the very limited risk of fresh fruit and vegetables trade across the Channel after 40 years of free flows. Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard highlighted, “We ask the UK to consider a derogation to reflect the very limited phytosanitary risk of fresh fruit and vegetables exchanges across the Channel after over 40 years of free and safe flows, and the fact that EU and UK plant health legislation will remain, at least in the mid-term, almost identical. Postponing the introduction of the phyto requirement for EU imports until electronic certification is in place would facilitate trade on both sides of the Channel.  It’s the very least we need to help maintain supplies of fresh produce”, added Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium.


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US-UK equivalency agreement for organic products takes effect

US-UK equivalency agreement for organic products takes effect

© USDA Public Domain


On January 1, 2021, a new US-UK equivalence agreement ensures that organic products certified to either USDA or UK standards may be labelled and sold as organic in both countries. The agreement provides continuity for US-UK exports covered by the US-EU equivalence agreement, following Brexit.

Like the US-EU agreement, the US-UK agreement covers only certified organic products that have been grown or raised in the US or UK and products where the final processing or packaging occurs in these countries, including where organic ingredients from other countries have been certified to USDA or UK standards. Crops, wild crops, livestock, and processed products are all eligible for equivalency under the agreement, but agricultural products derived from animals treated with antibiotics will not be certified organic when exported to the US.

The UK has established a new import process for all USDA organic products traded under the agreement, with different documentation required depending on whether the product is exported to Great Britain or Northern Ireland. As is the case under the US-EU agreement, exported organic products under the US-UK agreement must meet the labelling requirements of the destination country.

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Freshfel Europe calls for urgent need to ensure free movement of essential goods to and from the United Kingdom in crucial Christmas pre-Brexit period

Effects of a no-deal Brexit?


21 December 2020 – In response to the recent EU-UK border closures Freshfel Europe calls upon the EU27 and UK authorities to ensure free movement of goods to and from the United Kingdom in line with existing EU recommendations and guidelines, particularly regarding the implementation of EU Green Lanes and free movements of essential workers. This will guarantee that essential perishable goods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, can continue to cross the border, which will prevent distortions across the EU markets during the crucial Christmas period and ensure that sufficient supply of fresh produce can reach shelves in the UK.

Freshfel Europe is closely monitoring the situation at the EU-UK border since the announcement of border closures with the UK by an increasing number of EU Member States as a result of fears over a new COVID-19 strain. Port congestion in UK points of entry has already increased in the past few weeks due to the global trade slow-down resulting from the pandemic as well as the pre-Christmas period and no-deal Brexit fears. Freshfel Europe warns that the newly imposed border closures are further impacting the flow of goods through the Channel, with shortages of trucks and transport workers already being felt by the sector. This is a recurrent issue, which already strongly impacted the sector in March and April when the first COVID-9 wave hit Europe. This shortage has the potential to significantly distort the movement of European fresh produce to the UK at a crucial moment in the year. Freight between the EU27 and the UK follows a rotation system, so the blockage of EU-bound UK freight is affecting the rest of the chain and leading to higher costs for operators across the EU, as well as delays affecting the quality of perishable produce and order cancellations. The blockage at UK-EU borders may also impact the capacity for intra-EU27 movements.

Whilst the sector supports the need to prevent the potential spread of the new COVID-19 strain, Freshfel Europe urgently encourages EU Member States and UK authorities to follow existing EU guidelines and recommendations when implementing these new border closures and to follow a coordinated EU-wide approach. Freshfel Europe recalls the importance to ensure Green Lanes for the movements of essential goods within the Single Market (to which the UK is bound until 31 December) and to follow EU Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers as well as their welfare. Freshfel Europe recalls Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/1475 of 13 October 2020 on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which outlines that travellers with an essential function, such as transport workers, shall be enabled freedom of movement without undergoing quarantine while exercising this essential function. Freshfel Europe further encourages the EU27 and the UK to apply existing health protocols to guarantee the welfare of transport workers during the exercise of their duties when crossing the Channel. Additional measures to ensure their safety, such as the limitation of contacts during transit time, should also be swiftly implemented. Furthermore, EU and UK authorities should introduce urgent contingency measures to target the current bottleneck, such as additional ferry capacity, and increased speed for loading and unloading of freight in points of entry.

Commenting on the high urgency to ensure EU-UK flows, Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard highlighted that, “With the impending Brexit for businesses, it is of essence to limit disruptions across the Chanel by applying the tools and lessons learnt during the first wave of the pandemic in Europe. EU Green Lanes, together with current EU guidelines and recommendations should enable Europe to have a coordinated approach to keep borders open for freight between the EU27 and the UK, as well as to guarantee the protection of transport workers performing this essential duty for the supply of the UK market and the integrity of the Single Market.”

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How will Brexit affect Italy’s fresh produce?

How will Brexit affect Italy’s fresh produce? © Eurofresh Distribution

© Eurofresh Distribution


Italy’s fresh produce sector is following with great interest the negotiations underway to seal a trade deal between the EU and the UK. Last week, an online conference titled “Great Britain outside the European Union: What changes for fruit and vegetable operators from 1 January 2021″, organised by Cso Italy, Fruitimprese and Dcs Tramaco, over 120 people took part.

President of Cso Italy Paolo Bruni said, “In the last five years, exports of fruit and vegetables from Italy to the UK have exceeded 140,000 tons per year, including over 100,000 tons of the most widely produced fruits.”

Marco Salvi, president of Fruitimprese, said, “A radical reform, even if not yet fully defined due to the prolonged negotiations between the parties, which we hope will soon be concluded with a free trade agreement. For Italian fruit and vegetables, the United Kingdom represents the sixth export market in terms of volumes and the fourth in terms of turnover, with a value of over €250 million per year, generated primarily by the export of apples, table grapes and kiwis.”

The transition will involve introducing new customs controls in three stages, with full application from 1 July 2021.

Paolo Triossi, managing director of DCS Tramaco, said: “In January, the new procedures in the fruit and vegetable sector will concern the exchanges of seed and consumption potatoes, while for all the other products there is still a few months available. This is precious time that operators have at their disposal so as not to be caught unprepared. The advice is to have an Eori (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) code, to contact a customs broker and to clarify some points in advance with your local business partner.”

As long as uncertainty persists regarding a trade deal, it will be impossible to establish certain critical measures to take, particularly with regard to logistics and transport.

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Supermarket customers to face £3bn in tariffs in no-deal scenario

Supermarket customers to face £3bn in tariffs in no-deal scenario

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that supermarkets will face over £3 billion in tariffs if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal and that these costs will be passed onto consumers. Both the UK and the EU stated on Friday that there is a “strong possibility” that there will be no post-Brexit trade deal between the two parties. Johnson however added that a no-deal scenario, similar to the relationship that Australia has with the EU, would still be “very good”.

If a no-deal Brexit goes ahead, supermarket chains will face new import taxes on goods from the EU, particularly fresh food. The BRC estimates that 85% of food imported from the EU will face tariffs of over 5%. The average tariff would be more than 20%, including 16% on cucumbers and 10% on lettuce. 

BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said: “With just weeks to go, it is alarming that there has still been no deal agreed with the EU, putting customers in line for a £3bn tariff bombshell. Currently, four-fifths of UK food imports come from the EU and without a tariff-free deal, supermarkets and their customers face over £3bn in tariffs from 2021. Retailers are doing everything they can in time for 1 January but no amount of preparation for retailers can entirely prevent disruption to food and other essential goods that come from or through the EU.” 

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COEXPHAL analyses the modus operandi of fruit and vegetable companies after Brexit

COEXPHAL analyses the modus operandi of fruit and vegetable companies after Brexit
Photo: Coexphal

Almeria’s Association of Organizations of Fruit and Vegetable Producers COEXPHAL held a webinar last week titled ‘Brexit: practical aspects for exporters’ in which it addressed the post-Brexit scenario facing producers and marketers of fruit and vegetables.

Juan Antonio González Real, president of COEXPHAL, said: “Most of the COEXPHAL associates are exporters and the United Kingdom is our second market, both in volume and value. This is why Brexit concerns us very directly and we have considered it necessary to prepare this meeting, focused on the practical aspects that fruit and vegetable exporters should know, and with the presence of the 3 administrations that intervene in the procedures that we have to have consider.”

Manager of COEXPHAL, Luis Miguel Fernández, analysed the impact of a Brexit without an agreement on the export of fruit and vegetables from Almeria and Spain. “Most of our peppers, cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines, melons, watermelons, and tomatoes (although in recent seasons their export share to the UK has dropped) occupy an important market niche in the winter months in the UK. The proposal for tariffs on the fruit and vegetable product, if there is no agreement, is around 10% on average, without the existence of tariffs for Moroccan products, which produces a very worrying competitive disadvantage. The question that assails us is if we are finally going to a Brexit without an agreement, and the tariffs cannot be assumed, will the United Kingdom be able to look for other sources to source these fruits and vegetables? And, will there be other origins that can reach a sufficient volume to cover our gap?”

General director of Fepex, José Mª Pozancos, discussed the bilateral agreements between the UK and other countries: “The United Kingdom is negotiating trade agreements with non-EU suppliers of fruit and vegetables, and in this negotiation it has followed the common global tariff technique, replicating the trade agreements that the EU already has with those countries. Thus, it has simplified ad-valorem duties and schedules, has taken as a reference the tariff quotas of the European Union and has adapted them to the size of its market, significantly reducing them, applying the criterion of what its market share was. of the EU. And in relation to entry prices and specific prices, its application has been suspended. Furthermore, all member states of the European Union will receive the same treatment. There is no option for a bilateral negotiation. In the case of third countries, yes, and obviously this will have negative consequences for our sector.”

The technical part of the day focused on practical aspects and necessary procedures related to phytosanitary inspection, quality inspection and export.

Ignacio Menéndez, regional coordinator of Plant Health Inspection, said: “The current situation of the phytosanitary requirements established by the United Kingdom for the export of plants (V), plant products (PV) and other objects (OO) coming from the territory of the Union has been categorised into “High Priority plants”: which include machinery, potatoes, seeds of various species, wood, bark, trunks and branches of various species; Regulated products and exempt products. In addition, three phases of application of the regulations starting 01/01/2021. It is also necessary to take into account that all the movement of packaging and stowage of wood must be carried out with wood treated in accordance with the international standard NIMF-15.”

Pedro Martínez, provincial director of commerce in Almería, explained the conditions of trade with the United Kingdom after its departure from the European Union. “In January 2021, the United Kingdom will no longer have the obligation to apply EU regulations and the trade agreement that is reached for each of the sectors would enter into force. If there is no agreement, the United Kingdom will have the same treatment as other countries of the World Trade Organization with which the European Union does not have a preferential agreement. For the export and import of merchandise, on January 1, 2021, the need to carry out all customs and non-customs procedures required for a third country will begin. With or without a trade agreement, after the transitional period, the United Kingdom will be outside the EU Customs Union and will be a third country for all purposes both in trade of goods and services. Their products will cease to have the status of originating in the EU.”

Rafael Rogelio Molina, head of the Almería Customs and IIEE Unit, stressed that “in commercial exchanges, leaving the United Kingdom with or without an agreement will mean that they are subject to customs and non-customs procedures or formalities to verify the compliance with community legislation including the possible obligation to have an authorization or certificate from the competent authorities, which implies an additional procedure prior to import/export. On the other hand, products that are in transit, so that they are cleared by Spanish customs to continue to their final destination in the United Kingdom, will not be subjected to non-customs control in accordance with Union legislation, since presumably they will not they will be introduced in the internal market.”

Molina added: “It is important to highlight that the departure from the United Kingdom will mean that the EU’s trade agreements with third countries will cease to be applied in the United Kingdom, including the scope of preferential regimes. As of January 1, 2021, UK inputs (materials or processing operations) will be considered ‘non-EU origin’ within the framework of a preferential trade regime to determine the origin of the goods that incorporate them. It is therefore recommended that the operator verify whether the merchandise continues to have preferential origin in the EU and make sure that it can prove said origin.”

Gilles Percelay, commercial director of Ronco y Cía, said: “We are customs representatives and we take care of carrying out all the Customs procedures that exporters do not have the capacity to carry out. The United Kingdom has connections from the north of France, Belgium and the north of Spain with short sea routes. It is very important to arrive at the ports with the arrangements made and it is recommended that customs procedures be carried out at origin. This means that shipments should be dispatched in Almería and will have to arrive at the ports of departure with all the procedures completed.”

The webinar ended with the intervention of José Rodríguez de Guanter Rodríguez: “We carry out 20,000 annual operations of fruit and vegetables from third countries. We have created a network with customs representatives in all Spanish points where there is Customs, Fito and SOIVRE to give a complete service to the client. This same network has been created in France, which allows that, if the export cannot be done in Spain due to time or holidays, it can be done in France. We have a system that makes everything easy for the exporter. We take care of picking up the merchandise from Almería and putting it in London at the customer’s home, the importer and exporter don’t worry about customs procedures.”

In conclusion, the sector must put itself in the worst case scenario to work out ways of exporting to the UK in the case of a hard Brexit. Possible tariffs will reduce the profitability of Spanish fruit and vegetable exports to the United Kingdom and work should be done by Europe, in this sense, to eliminate or minimise them, studying the possibility of compensatory payments to offset said tariffs. The United Kingdom is the third largest market for Almería and so all fronts must work together to maintain the export volume and profitability that no other market can provide.


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Morrisons warns of higher supermarket prices if no Brexit deal

Morrisons warns of higher supermarket prices if no Brexit deal


UK retailer Morrisons has given a stark warning to the country’s government and consumers to expect higher food bills if no trade deal is signed between the UK and the EU. 

Speaking to The Guardian, chief executive of Morrisons, David Potts, said, “From our point of view representing British consumers we would like the government and the leaders of the country to negotiate a deal that includes no tariffs UK to Europe or Europe to the UK because tariffs do drive inflation. The warning follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion this week that he might be ready to tear up his own Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Morrisons, which has its own food processing and packaging plants and has direct relationships with farmers, states that although the firm is in a good position to weather the Brexit storm, as two-thirds of its products are of British origin, perishable items such as fruit and vegetables cannot be stockpiled.

The major supermarkets expect a difficult Christmas in the light of rising unemployment and economic difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. While sales at Morrisons’ stores rose by 11.1%, profits sank by a quarter to £148m in the six months to 2 August, as the supermarket was forced to keep prices low amid heavy competition while costs rose during the pandemic. Morrisons spent an additional £155 million, including £47 million in extra pay, as it hired 45,000 more staff to cope with the shift to shopping online and to cover for staff self-isolating or off sick at the height of the pandemic. A staff bonus, protective kit, and the need for more vehicles to make deliveries also added to costs, which were only partly offset by a £93m boost from the business rates holiday.

Morrisons’ profits were also hit by the shift to less-profitable online sales as it doubled orders via its website and increased capacity for home delivery fivefold via a range of services including Amazon and a new box scheme. The supermarket chain is also piloting a “dark kitchen” at its central Manchester store, from which takeaway food will be delivered by courier firm Deliveroo, with plans for two more such kitchens in the coming months.

Morrisons’ share of the online grocery market is now above 10%, up from around 6% earlier this year, although growth is slowing down from where it was at the height of the pandemic.


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What can EU produce sector expect after Brexit?

What can EU produce sector expect after Brexit, Source: Freshfel
Source: Freshfel



With the UK all but certain to leave the EU in 2020, the European fruit and vegetable industry is viewing with great concern the potential impact this will have on intra-EU trade flows. A recent Rabobank report found that fresh produce will be the most affected food sector following Brexit, along with animal protein. At a time when the EU agricultural sector is still adjusting to the fallout of the Russian embargo, the potential loss of another key market could have devastating consequences.

Loss of trade would be costly on both sides of Channel

For many years now, the industry has benefited from frictionless trade thanks to single-market provisions, with the EU Mainland being a net supplier to the UK. In fact, the UK is the third largest destination for EU fruit and vegetables, receiving 3.1 million tons (€4 billion) of fresh produce each year. The two-way flows between the EU and the UK are worth €3.6 billion and account for about 10% of all intra-EU fresh produce trade. Besides generating large revenues for EU suppliers, this dynamic has left the UK heavily dependent on the EU for its fresh produce, with 55% of all the country’s imports coming from the EU-27 Member States. The main EU imports to the UK are tomatoes (480,000 tons), apples (245,000 tons), onions (230,000 tons), sweet peppers (175,000 tons), and soft citrus (164,000 tons). The largest source by far is Spain, which represents 45% of the total, followed by the Netherlands (22%), France (7%), Germany (6%) and Ireland (6%), with significant volumes imported from third countries via other EU Member States.



“55% of the UK’s fresh produce imports arrive from the EU”



The UK itself produces around 2.2 million tons of fresh produce (1.8 million tons of vegetables and 450,000 tons of fruit). Its exports to the EU total around 310,000 tons, most of which are shipped to Ireland (101,000 tons), France (90,000 tons) and the Netherlands (30,000 tons). The main trade is the re-export of bananas (64,000 tons) and other exotic fruits.

Rising prices

So, how is Brexit likely to change this picture? To answer this, multiple aspects need to be considered, such as tariffs, potential quotas, logistical hurdles, customs operations, certification, and tracing. At this point, we can only speculate about the terms of the eventual deal, as the final details of any agreement are still to be established. If the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, then it will automatically revert to WTO trading rules in dealing with the EU. This would lead to a new tariff regime in place which would increase costs for operators in the EU and the UK who had previously benefited from zero-tariffs. What is clear, however, is that no extra tariffs will be applied to fresh produce for up to 12 months after the UK leaves the EU.

Bottlenecks and rotting produce

Secondly, border procedures and customs operations could lead to delays along the supply chain. This could have drastic consequences in the fresh fruit and vegetable trade given the perishability of the products. Trade flows are dependent on swift border procedures and customs clearance. Currently, 130,000 containers of highly perishable products arrive in the UK from the EU each year, with 55,000 containers sent from Spain alone to the port of Dover. The main bottlenecks of the EU-UK fresh produce trade are located at the ports of Dover and Rotterdam, and at the Eurostar connection in Calais. Dover is a very narrow transit port, lacking parking and storage facilities. Any new procedures will place great burden on ports and lead to backlogs, which in turn would compromise the timing of arrival and the quality of the perishable products. Morrisons supermarket chain has announced contingency plans that include switching to alternative ferry crossings, such as Le Havre-Portsmouth, if the Dover-Calais route becomes gridlocked. In turn, the Co-op supermarket chain has stated its intention to use air freight to bring in fruit to avoid empty shelves.

Ireland is particularly vulnerable given its relative geographical isolation. New border controls could result in lower supplies and higher prices for Irish consumers, too. Goods shipped between Mainland UK and Northern Ireland will also be subject to checks by UK and EU officials, which is causing particular distress in Belfast.

Higher costs

The UK may introduce different food safety regulations. This would lead to increased certification requirements, including certificates of origins, quality and phytosanitary certificates, which would constitute a further financial burden on operators. As fresh produce often arrives in mixed containers, with an average consignment comprising 10 different product categories, then based on an annual average of 130,000 containers, this would result in additional cost of up to €65 million in certification, according to a Freshfel report.

UK to turn into a rival for the EU?

The EU is concerned about what steps the UK may take to make itself a more attractive market, to the potential detriment of its European neighbours. When the UK becomes a third-country trading partner, new transhipments rules will need to be defined, governing how produce is stored and handled. If the EU wishes to retain its competitiveness as a logistical hub, it must ensure it continues to be a more attractive logistical environment than the UK, or risk losing trade. Another fear is that the UK will loosen MRL and phytosanitary requirements in order to attract imports from around the world. Such changes would have a knock-on effect on trade within the EU, where stricter rules are in place.

Less movement, less collaboration

While the movement of citizens is to be guaranteed during the transition period (up to December 2020), the current shortfall in seasonal labour in the UK is likely to be exacerbated and result in higher costs for UK producers. The field of research and innovation is also certain to be affected, with the UK one of the largest beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 funds, receiving €3.3 million in grants. For instance, the “Raditom” research project is investigating the preservation of tomato flavour, while the “EUFRUIT” project involves 12 countries focussing on coordination and information sharing.

The ideal scenario

Ultimately, the industry fears that the complexities of fresh produce trade with not be adequately considered given the limited time for negotiating exit conditions. Ideally, there would be a longer transitional period than the currently proposed 11 months (until December 2020) to allow a new free-trade agreement to be concluded and grant businesses sufficient time to adapt to any changes. An undertaking to protect the supply of EU fresh produce to the UK would defend jobs and economic growth on both sides of the Channel.

Moreover, if the UK integrates its digital customs services with those of the EU, this would help lubricate trade flows. It is vital not to reverse the great progress the sector has made in recent times. The issuing of electronic organic and phytosanitary certificates via ‘traces’ has greatly improved the monitoring and risk analysis of trade in plant products. The fine balance that has allowed the sector to flourish could be greatly undermined by any variation in price or conditions.

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Effects of a no-deal Brexit?

Effects of a no-deal Brexit?

What are the outcomes of a no-deal Brexit? The contents of shelves in UK supermarkets could change. About 30% of the UK’s food currently comes from the EU, and fresh vegetables and fruit will become more expensive due to increased import taxes and transport delays. Moreover, there may be a fall in the value of the pound, which would compound the price rise. Supermarkets themselves have already warned that there could be empty shelves and higher prices and the Bank of England has said that shopping bills could increase by 10% in a worst case scenario.

The government has said that consumer behaviour could also lead to shortages as panic buying could mean food retailers run out of some products. Supermarkets say while they have been stockpiling some foods, they are unable to do that for fresh produce.

The UK could waive tariffs, but under WTO rules, it would have to offer the same reductions to other countries outside of the EU as well.