European agri food co-ops say no deal Brexit must be avoided

Copa-Cogeca believes it is crucial to avoid the imposition of new tariff barriers

A no deal Brexit could have dramatic economic consequences for the agricultural sector in the UK and across Europe, warn European agri food businesses.

In a statement published ahead of the House of Commons vote on 15 January, trade bodies Copa-Cogeca, CELCAA and Food Drink Europe warned against a no-deal Brexit, which would hit food and drink producers, traders in agri-food commodities and consumers.

Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella organisation for European farmers and agri co-ops, believes it is crucial to avoid new tariff barriers in the form of customs or border requirements, and especially in the form of new regulatory procedures.

The joint statement said that 2017, EU27 agri-food exports to the UK amounted to €41bn (£36bn) while UK exports to the EU were worth €17bn (£15bn – generating employment for 44 million people across the EU.

“The exit of the UK from the EU without a deal will inevitably lead to significant trade disruption and a lose-lose situation for the entire agri-food chain,” it added. “Burdensome and unavoidable procedures, such as official controls of goods, sanitary and phytosanitary inspections, veterinary certificates and import tariffs will lead to increased delays for checks at borders and raise the costs for both sides.

“Agri-food operators across the EU27, and in the UK, as well as the relevant competent authorities will need sufficient time to adapt to the new conditions that Brexit poses. A transition period is therefore vital for operators and authorities alike to suitably prepare and adjust. It is important that during this period, the UK would continue to abide by existing EU regulations governing food production and to honour its existing commitments.

“The European agri-food chain would like to reiterate that a no-deal Brexit would be hugely damaging for both the UK and EU agri-food sector and must be avoided at all costs,” reads the statement.

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