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"It would be a long drawn out process which would take years"

What would a Brexit mean for the fresh produce trade?

The United Kingdom has been torn apart over the question whether it should remain a member of the European Union or not. On 23 June, the British will vote on this in a referendum. After the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox last week all campaigning has been stopped and the polls shifted heavily to the Remain side.

Brexit lost 13 points in the last few days and the pound saw the biggest increase against the dollar since 2008.



Rob Cullum from importer Pacific Produce, said he would like to remain part of the EU but there must be changes and possibly a very tight vote to remain would give a clear indication that people wanted reform.
 
Ian Reid from recruitment firm Red Fox Executive Selection, said if Brexit goes ahead, people will be reluctant to bring in new employees they will tighten their belts till the dust settles. But he cannot see the government getting rid of EU labour agreements as it would be a disaster for the agricultural and industrial industries

Peter Davies from import export company Davis Worldwide, doesn't think anything will change either way in the short term, "If the UK does does vote to leave it would be a long drawn out process which would take years and we would probably end with the same situation as Norway. He also does not think that there would be any changes to the free movement of Europeans for employment.

Justin Chadwick, CEO of Citrus Grower's Association of South Africa said that although resigning from the EU would result in a complex and wide set of repercussions; from a citrus trade viewpoint such a move could be viewed as positive. "At present the UK is governed by EU plant health regulations; as a result measures are in place that restrict citrus trade with the UK despite that fact that there is not one hectare of citrus in that country. So there are no plant health risks (incidentally there are no plant health risks in southern EU member states which is the subject of a scientific dispute). A Brexit would result in revision of UK plant health regulations which would be positive for southern hemisphere citrus."

One South African exporter said his only concern was an unstable pound.

Research from credit insurer Atradius, export association Fenedex and entrepreneurial association EVO shows that two-thirds of the Dutch exporters think the UK will remain in the EU. If a Brexit does happen, two-thirds of traders expect the consequences for trade will not be too bad.

Johan Vrijland - JNV Produce Marketing, The Netherlands
“Personally I do not see a Brexit happening, but, of course, you cannot rule it out. The (money) market is already anticipating a possible Brexit, it would almost certainly cause the decrease in the value of the pound, causing prices of import products to increase in the UK. In case of a Brexit, a new commercial treaty will have to be created. You would get a kind of ‘second Norway."

Alain Tulpin - Tulpin Group, The Netherlands.
A Brexit will definitely have influence, but in the field of trade it will probably not be too bad, expects Alain Tulpin of the Tulpin Group. “Especially operationally things will change. All in all consequences for the fresh produce trade will be minimal. we will go more than 20 years back in time, if the Brexit happens. What will happen in a Brexit? Right now we have many questions that we do not yet have an answer for, so we cannot be certain of anything at the moment. If they leave the EU, customs business for the Channel tunnel will probably be shifted to Dover. The French side has plenty of space for lorries, but the Euro tunnel terminal in Folkestone does not. The UK will have to construct many parking lots and infrastructure for customs, KCB/VWA and customs agents. The migrant problem will also cause much trouble, and the EU will then no longer help.”



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