Brexit clock is ticking but serious barriers to trade remain unresolved
With just five months to go before business as usual ceases and the Brexit transition period ends, there are still a number of business-critical issues that remain un-resolved and have the potential to seriously disrupt trade both to the EU and the rest of the world.
We have written to Defra asking how we can work with them to ensure that our members have the answers to these key questions as soon as possible, enabling them to continue to agree contracts with customers and suppliers and buy packaging and other things that they require to operate.
Answers needed before 31 December
In the Conservative manifesto there is a commitment to ‘seeking to gain market access for British businesses and lowering the cost of trade’ for them as well as to ‘redouble efforts to promote British business and UK exports and dismantle barriers to trade.’
If this is to happen, these are the issues that must be resolved before the end of the year, many of which could have been dealt with well before now, independently of any trade negotiations. We need to know:
- The UK will have country approval and plant listings for export to the EU.
- That the UK has clarified what the healthmark will be for GB and NI and when they will be introduced so that companies can have confidence in purchasing packaging which have long lead in times
- That the UK has communicated changes to certification and health mark arrangements with other 3rd country competent authorities and received acknowledgement and agreement from them
- That there will be health certificates on which UK exports of chilled meat preparations, mincemeat and of poultrymeat MSM can continue to be sent to the EU market
- That the UK has devised a workable scheme that allows groupage and mixed loads to be sent to the EU and that companies have advanced knowledge of the details so they can adapt
- That the UK has sufficient affordable veterinary (or other) resource for the significantly increased certification requirements
From an import standpoint we also need clarification on a number of areas as a matter of urgency:
- What the import certificate will look like for both EU and rest of world imports to the UK.
- Clarification on how groupage and mixed loads can enter the UK from the EU.
Businesses cannot prepare with these questions unanswered and they cannot wait any longer for answers.
We will work with Government so they can draw on our expertise in trade and make sure that the SPS negotiating teams in Whitehall are ready to take on these key business and trade continuity issues in the coming months and provide clarity to the industry as soon as possible.