British food faces ‘outright export bans’ in wake of EU exit

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Trade in food and agricultural produce between Britain and the EU would suffer more if policy differences between the two lead to tariffs and more checks
Trade in food and agricultural produce between Britain and the EU would suffer more if policy differences between the two lead to tariffs and more checks

Related tags: Brexit, Supply chain

British food businesses face ‘outright export bans’ and ‘structural’ barriers to trade with Europe thanks to bureaucracy linked with Brexit, according to the House of Lords EU Environment sub-committee.

Peers warned trade in food and agricultural produce between Britain and the EU would suffer more if policy differences between the two lead to tariffs and more checks.

The committee called for a thorough assessment of potential trade barriers as regulations and support for producers and growers are developed.

It also urged the Government to fix problems affecting groupage transport, stating issues surrounding health certificates and paperwork had caused suppliers to shy away from sending mixed consignments.

Challenges ahead

Lord Teverson – sub-committee chair – highlighted the difficult challenges, particularly for small businesses, caused by the increases in paperwork and preparation required for food and agricultural exports to the EU.

“Higher haulage rates and issues with groupage and parcel deliveries are putting further pressure on food and agricultural produce exporters,”​ added Teverson.

“Despite the improvements we hope to see, there are now new barriers to UK-EU relations and new administrative costs and burdens will be structural and long-term.”

The committee called for systems to become fully electronic, streamlined and integrated quickly to make it easier for businesses to submit documentation.

Third country

“We are a ’third country’ now as far as the EU is concerned. The UK and EU have largely achieved their objectives and now have to accept the consequences – both the good and the inconvenient,” ​Teverson continued.

“This could ultimately reduce the profitability of Great Britain’s food and agricultural produce sectors.”

Meanwhile, salmon, beef, pork, cheese and animal feed were the top five UK food chain items exported to the EU taking the biggest percentage hit in January​,​ with overall exports down 75.5% on January 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 and stockpiling by UK businesses in the EU ahead of the end of the transition period were contributing factors in the losses, the Food and Drink Federation stated.

But much of the damage was likely due to new non-tariff barriers faced by UK exporters and the collapse of groupage movements, which had shut out many small and medium-sized exporters, the trade body claimed.

Related topics: Supply Chain, Brexit

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We wrote the rules

Posted by Daniel,

Those Brexiteers arguing that the EU is somehow targeting the UK out of bitterness over leaving forget one important fact: we wrote the rules we are now living by as members of the EU. It has been no surprise to anyone that knows anything about international trade that life was going to be difficult for businesses selling into the EU post-Brexit.

I'm sad for my country to be honest. Brexit could have been done in a much less damaging way, but those calling for a hard Brexit won and we now have to live with the consequences.

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The UK is a third country now

Posted by Nigel Franks,

Which means that it is treated exactly like every other third country. Why are Brexiters playing the victim: it's what they wanted?

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Is a trade war in anybody's interests?

Posted by MaggyC,

Well the answer is no but political pressure will grow, in the UK, to retaliate.
I can't see the difference, personally, of buying our tomatoes and peppers from Morocco rather than Spain. Tough on Spain, good for Morocco, no difference to me.
Our wine from S Africa, the USA, S. America rather than the EU... why not?
We haven't put any trade barriers in place, so far adopting a laissez-faire approach to most of goods imported here.
This won't last.
Already our fish producers, down here in the SW, are researching new markets so God knows where French and Spanish restaurants are going to source it when they re-open.
Silly, silly EU people.
Behaving like spoilt children.

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