Spanish federation of agri co-ops tells members to prepare for no-deal Brexit

Both sides will have to apply WTO tariffs If the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal

Agri food co-ops in Spain have been told to prepare for a no deal Brexit after MPs rejected Theresa May’s deal with the EU.

In a press statement published on 17 January, the Spanish federation of agri food co-ops (AGACA) said it regretted the outcome of the vote on the deal, which, it argued, had led to more uncertainty.

“From now on, all Spanish economic sectors, including the agri-food one, need to prepare themselves for the worst possible scenario and develop contingency plans in the face of a real possibility for a no-deal Brexit,” it said.

Should the UK leave the EU without a trade deal, both sides will have to apply WTO tariffs from 29 March.

Under WTO rules, tariffs for agri food products average at 20%. However, they go as high as 100% for meat, dairy and sugar products, between 40% and 90% for grains and 30% or more for fruit and vegetables.

In addition to tariffs, Spanish agri food producers looking to export to the UK will face border controls, customs declarations and changes in existing contracts between operators.

All these consequences could cause a collapse of Spanish exports to the United Kingdom, warns AGACA. Around 8% of Spain’s agri food exports go to the UK. AGACA believes that the most affected co-ops will be those exporting fresh fruit and vegetables, wine, olive oil and pork, for which the UK is an important market.

If other countries cannot export to the United Kingdom, their products would remain in the European single market, leading to an oversupply that would affect all countries, adds AGACA. Co-ops across the EU could have to cut prices and restructure their farms.

To help producers better plan for Brexit the Spanish government has also published a series of guidelines for various sector, which highlight that in case the UK leaves without a trade deal EU food safety and quality regulations will cease to apply to it.

However, UK products entering Spain would still need to comply with EU regulation and might face sanitary, phytosanitary or commercial quality controls. Spanish companies exporting to the UK would also need to comply with UK legislation and might require certifications to attest this.