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No-deal Brexit may negatively affect British farming exports

The National Farmer's Union has warned that a no-deal Brexit scenario may cause British farming exports to be stopped for six months.

They have stated that a no-deal situation will be 'catastrophic' for the industry as the UK will have to wait for six months to be certified as a third-country supplier.

This will have an immense impact on the food and drink sector in the UK as exports from the EU were worth approximately £13.2 billion per year.

While the UK is in complete regulatory alignment with the EU, the occurrence of a no-deal Brexit will result in their suppliers having to undergo the same health check procedures as China and the USA. 

It has been speculated that meat exports to the EU will be subjected to individual inspections by authorities.

The NFU's director general, Terry Jones, commented on the situation and stated:

“What we are talking about in effect is a six-month trade embargo until such time we can get the product in, from that point we will face the European’s external tariff wall meaning we will be priced out of the market."

Additionally, NFU president, Minette Batters said:

"No deal is unpalatable and catastrophic for the industry and the more we hear, the more certain we are that our lines all along are right."

The NFU has met with and held talks with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the EU's directorate general for health and food safety, DG Sante, to prepare for a no deal scenario.

It has been said that the UK has already devised a plan to keep food inflation below 5% by imposing tariffs and for goods to be imported without checks to the UK. 

NFU director general, Terry Jones, also stated:

“So to keep the shelves full and keep the food inflation down, we’re going to adopt one stance, but it’s very clear from the discussions the government is having with the EU that on 30 March, the clock starts around us being approved as a third-country supplier. They cannot start these checks before."

The prime minister will not be able to control what could happen with exports until Britain officially leaves the EU. 

In the case of a no-deal scenario, the EU could initiate an emergency legislation to allow for food to flow within the UK however, this decision will be the EU's, not the UK's.

DEFRA has allegedly been working to devise a plan to audit farms and plants but they cannot legally submit the plan until 30 March 2019.

The UK is due to leave the EU on that date.

Also, the EU has said that the approval process for the DEFRA plan will take up to three months.

“It first requires Defra to audit each one [supplier] to certify that it is happy that each one complies with EU law, but then the commission must audit that work, that depends on EC resource available at the commission and the timing of the vote in the standing committee.

“In theory the UK already has a plan as it meets all the regulations now, but from a legal point of view and based on the broader conversation with DG Sante this makes six months a conservative estimate," said Mr Jones.

 

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