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FDF response to Government's latest 'No-Deal' Technical Notices

24 September 2018

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FDF has issued the following press notice:

Ian Wright CBE, FDF Chief Executive said:

“Today's Technical Notices lay bare the grisly prospect of a 'no-deal' Brexit. We face chaos at the ports, serious disruption to food supplies, increasing business costs, rising consumer prices and ever more administrative burdens on the food and drink industry.

“The Technical Notices show that a 'no-deal' Brexit will have a severe impact on UK food and drink supplies and trade from March 2019. Upon leaving the EU, UK exports would face the EU's prohibitively high WTO Most Favoured Nation tariffs, which would make many products uncompetitive and threaten the success of more than £13bn of our industry's annual exports. If the UK were to waive checks on food and ingredient imports into the UK, as suggested, we would face legal challenges via the WTO while considerably undermining our reputation with the WTO's 163 other members.

“UK food and drink manufacturers will need to make immediate and costly changes to product labelling to remove references to the EU in origin labelling. Additionally, a product labelled with a UK Food Business Operator's name and address would no longer be able to be sold in EU markets, however this would be mandatory for products sold in the UK. The limited timeframe for such changes and the accompanying administrative burdens further threaten the success of UK export sales to the EU, our largest export market. If EU consumers are unable to access UK food and drink, the chances are they will switch to other sources of supply and those export markets will be lost forever.

“Consignments heading to the continent will require physical and documentation inspections as they enter the EU and within hours this will result in turmoil at Calais, which does not have a border inspection post. A transport backlog will mean our essential imports from the EU will be similarly disrupted, with ferries, lorries and trains unavailable to transport food to this side of the channel. While the UK may not run out of food and drink it will certainly be scarcer and more expensive. UK shoppers, who have become accustomed to year-round availability of a wide range of safe, high-quality food and drink at all price points, will face a very rude awakening.

“Our politicians act as if they have six more months to conclude a withdrawal agreement. In fact, today's official confirmation of just how bad this scenario would be is bound to encourage businesses and shoppers to consider - now - stockpiling, buying-ahead, hedging currency risk, procuring additional warehousing, relocating production to the EU, and other practical measures to secure supply. These actions in turn will increase prices and begin to distort markets immediately.

“The consequences of a 'no-deal' Brexit for UK food and drink are starting to be felt already. The impacts will snowball as we get closer to March 2019. Instead of lecturing the EU, the Government must secure a withdrawal agreement imminently or begin the arrangements to extend the Article 50 deadline so that they can do so in an orderly fashion.”

More Information

Contact Ted Woodward, Corporate Affairs Division, at: ted.woodward@fdf.org.uk, or +44 (0) 20 7420 7140.

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