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They demand tariff free trade relations

Spain: Andalusia worried about impact of Brexit on berry sector

The Councillor of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of Andalusia, Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, has advocated for tariff free trade relations after Brexit before the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom. He has done so in the framework of a meeting held in London with representatives of the British Ministry, appealing to the mutual defence of the common market, so that the sales from loyal customers in consolidated markets are not affected."

Sánchez Haro has thus pointed to the need for an agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) to prevent the imposition of administrative and technical barriers to commercial transactions between both sides once the former ceases to be a member state.

He has also asked for a legislative development that doesn't slow down and devalue exports​, warning also about the risk of imposing excessive requirements as far as quarantines, product controls or certifications are concerned. He claims that this would result in higher expenses for producers. "Given this possibility, we must take into account the high quality standards that food and beverages across the EU stand out for." Also, "the demands on European products have to be the same as those in place for other origins."

During the meeting with the representatives of the British Ministry, Rodrigo Sánchez expressed his concern about the specific impact of Brexit on the berry sector, since berries represent 21% of the total fruit consumption in the country. For a production that has grown in the UK by 131% in the last 20 years, and which will need (according to a study by British Summer Fruits) 95,000 seasonal workers in 2020, the exit from the EU will result in a lack of labour that will require the importation of berries worth around 400 million Euro.

From the point of view of the regional head for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, it is "vital" for the sector to plan how to face this possible crisis and to define the role of foreign producers in the face of a likely situation of price volatility. This is "especially relevant" for Andalusia in general, and for Huelva in particular. In 2017, the province exported strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and currants to the United Kingdom worth over 280 million Euro, which is more than a quarter of the total berry sales abroad.

Quality Designations
Sánchez Haro has also asked for a mutual recognition of quality designations. "We have built their reputation together for years and they have allowed producers on both sides to improve the value of their products." The main goal is to avoid the threat that the Brexit has for labels such as Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indications (PGI), which are based on the application of European regulations.

Following the announcement of Brexit in June 2016, as well as the upward trend observed in recent years, the export of Andalusian foods and beverages to the United Kingdom has stabilised, having closed the year 2017 with a value of 993.4 million Euro. Although this figure represents a 2% drop compared to 2016, it is 60% greater than the 620.8 million Euro spent by British buyers on the region's agro-food products in 2012. The UK thus consolidates as the fourth most important destination for the region's products, behind Germany (1,639 million Euro), Italy (1,516 million) and France (1,370 million).

Source: Europa Press

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