European trade body FoodDrinkEurope has warned of the “dramatic economic consequences” of a no-deal Brexit for both European Union (EU) and UK farmers, food and drink producers, traders in agri-food commodities as well as consumers.
In a joint statement with European farming group Copa-Cogeca and the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade (CELCAA), which represents agri-food wholesalers, FoodDrinkEurope said 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”.
The statement said: “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.”
The announcement comes as members of parliament in the UK are today expected to vote on whether to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for the country’s withdrawal of the EU.
Today’s so-called “meaningful vote” – which has been delayed from 11 December last year – is scheduled to take place any time from 7pm this evening.
While it is expected Mrs May will lose the vote, she has called for politicians to back her deal or risk “letting the British people down”.
Scottish food bodies have called on UK politicians of all parties to reject a no deal, predicting that it could cost the industry over £2 billion in lost sales a year.
In a joint letter, trade organisations Scotland Food & Drink, Food and Drink Federation Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland, said: “ As lead bodies representing Scotland’s £14 billion farming, food and drink industry, we implore politicians of all parties to unite immediately and reject the option of a no-deal Brexit. Whilst recognising there is no political consensus yet on a future trade relationship with Europe, the potentially catastrophic impact of not reaching any deal is clear.
“We are collectively hugely ambitious for the growth of our industry. However, even using the UK government’s own projections, we estimate the cost of a no deal to our industry would be at least £2 billion in lost sales annually. That is on top of the short-term chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages.”
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.
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