Food and farming leaders slam Brexit No-Deal but welcome advice
“As the consequences of a no-deal exit from the EU become ever clearer, it is vital that, to protect the interests of shoppers and consumers, the government must deliver a deal with the EU”: Ian Wright, FDF.
Quitting the EU without a trade deal would be a "grisly prospect." warns the FDF's Ian Wright.
Food and farming leaders have welcomed government advice about the implications of Britain quitting the EU without an agreement but warned of “the grisly prospect” of a no-deal scenario.
Commenting on the Technical Notices published yesterday (August 23), Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive, said they confirmed “what a grisly prospect for UK food and drink” a no-deal exit from the EU would be.
“As the consequences of a no-deal exit from the EU become ever clearer, it is vital that, to protect the interests of shoppers and consumers, the government must deliver a deal with the EU,” said Wright.
But there was no sign of progress on negotiating frameworks with the devolved administrations and no substantive information on mitigating the effect of ‘no deal’ on the island of Ireland, he added.
The Technical Notices on organic food certification made clear that UK organic exporters may face a ban on their exports to the EU for at least nine months after a no-deal exit, pending approvals for certification. “These issues apply far more widely than just to organic food – any UK food that currently displays EU marks or logos will be in the same boat.”
Also, the UK food industry will doubt that the government could replace the EU Trade Control and Expert System that tracks the entire trade and certification process for animals, food, feed and plants – known as TRACES – with a new, comprehensive, functional UK alternative IT system before Britain quits the EU on March 29.
Full implications of a no-deal exit
The full implications of a no-deal exit will be explored at New Food’s Food Brexit conference on Thursday 1 November at the QE11 Centre in central London.
Meanwhile, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Minette Batters said the notices were “an essential part of government’s plans for preparing for all outcomes” but warned a no-deal Brexit represented “a cliff-edge scenario”, which, if applied across the wider UK food supply chain, “would be disastrous for farm businesses, the economy and society at large”.
The technical notice for organic farming was a warning on the future trade of all agri-food products, she added. “If all these products were subjected to the same problems in approvals and certification, then this could result in effectively a trade embargo on exports to the EU. Not only would this be hugely disruptive but it threatens livelihoods and businesses in the UK.”
Trading relationship worth £45.5bn
The absolute priority for the NFU remained free and frictionless trade with the EU, added Batters. Nearly two-thirds (60%) of UK food, feed and drink exports were to EU countries and 70% of our imports in these products were from the EU. This trading relationship was worth £45.5bn.
While the NFU continued to believe a deal was the most likely outcome, the union urged both sides to find pragmatic solutions to the remaining problem areas. “A no-deal outcome would be the worst possible one for the farming industry,” said Batters.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) agreed that a ‘no deal’ exit would wreak havoc on economies across Europe. “These papers [Technical Notices] show that those who claim crashing out of the EU on World Trade Organization rules is acceptable live in a world of fantasy, where facts are not allowed to challenge ideology,” said its Deputy Director-General Josh Hardie.
Read the Food Brexit conference programme here.