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Peers “dismayed” at growing food and farming trade friction post-Brexit

Tuesday 23 March March 2021

British businesses face “outright export bans” on some goods and “structural” barriers to trade with Europe including more paperwork and higher transport costs, a new report by peers says.

Trade in food and agricultural produce between Great Britain and the European Union will suffer more if policy differences lead to tariffs and more checks, according to the House of Lords EU Environment sub-committee.

Some exports such as seed potatoes “have come to a complete halt” following the end of the Brexit transition period, the sub-committee says in its final report – ‘Future UK-EU relations: energy, environment and health’ - published today (23 March).

Now peers have called on both sides to “thoroughly assess” potential trade barriers as regulations and support for producers and growers are developed.

Systems should be fully electronic, streamlined and integrated quickly to make it easier for businesses to submit documentation, and the sub-committee has urged the Government to fix problems affecting ‘groupage’ transport - a cost-saving method where several batches of goods are combined in one load.

Lord Teverson, sub-committee chair, said:

”We’re dismayed that our agri-food sector is facing such high trade frictions.

“The increases in paperwork and preparation required for food and agricultural exports to the EU are presenting very difficult challenges, particularly for small businesses.

“Higher haulage rates and issues with groupage and parcel deliveries are putting further pressure on food and agricultural produce exporters.

“Despite the improvements we hope to see, there are now new barriers to UK-EU relations and new administrative costs and burdens will be structural and long-term.

“We are a ’third country’ now as far as the EU is concerned. The UK and EU have largely achieved their objectives and now have to accept the consequences - both the good and the inconvenient.”

Peers are also disappointed that the Government and EU did not achieve more on food and plant health measures.

Lord Teverson added:

“This could ultimately reduce the profitability of Great Britain’s food and agricultural produce sectors.”

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