BRC report calls for solutions to UK food retail imports from the EU
Without agreed and well-planned solutions, the report has warned that UK consumers will face higher costs and reduced availability of goods.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released a report – ‘A Fair Deal for Consumers: EU Trade Roadmap’ – which outlines the retail industry’s priorities for the upcoming UK government negotiations with the EU.
The roadmap has called for pragmatic solutions on future compliance and regulatory checks that will apply from January 2021.
Almost 80 percent of all the food that UK retailers import comes from the EU, making the EU negotiation important for these essential goods, according to the report. Most of this comes through Dover and Folkestone, the UK’s largest roll-on/roll-off ports, which handle almost 7,000 lorries every day (up to 10,000 during peak periods).
While the report has highlighted that there is no possibility of return to frictionless trade under the government’s red lines, there are said to be key mitigations that could reduce the impact on consumers and retailers:
- Zero-tariff trade deal
- Cooperation with the EU to minimise trade friction
- Coordination on VAT, customs and excise procedures
- Advance information on new checks and paperwork
- Timely construction of necessary infrastructure at UK ports.
The report outlined that without pragmatic solutions and agreements with the EU, companies may be required to produce VAT and excise documents, freight documents, health and veterinary paperwork, export health certificates, exit and entry summary declarations, and safety and security permits.
“The issue is simple – higher tariffs and extensive checks will harm consumers, retailers, and the UK economy. The government must set about to negotiate a zero-tariff agreement that minimises checks and red tape otherwise it will be consumers who suffer as a result,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium.
“The introduction of excessive or avoidable checks would mean businesses face a mountain of paperwork to be filled out by an army of newly trained staff, coupled with exhaustive checks on thousands of lorries every day. And the result for consumers would be higher costs and reduced availability on the shelves.
“Meanwhile, new IT systems will need to be created and tested before the 1 January 2021. Border Control Posts must be built, with people hired and trained to run. The government has no time to lose.”