The fruit sector of the Region of Murcia, especially stone fruit producers in Cieza and grape exporters, is facing quite an uncertain situation due to the upcoming Brexit, as there are many doubts about the various scenarios that could ensue. In the worst case scenario, with a 'hard' exit, exports would be significantly affected, with drops of between 10% and even 30%, according to UPA estimates.
The producers trust that this year's fruit harvest will be a good one, since the trees have had the necessary amount of cold days, which should result in an abundant production. If the farms manage to save the last obstacle of possible frosts in February or early March, or other meteorological adversities, there should be a normal stone fruit campaign in the Region of Murcia, with a total volume oscillating between 380 and 400 million kilos. Of these, about 240 million kilos will be harvested in the Cieza area alone. But even if these figures are reached, a hard 'Brexit' would have severely negative consequences, as there may be problems to find markets for all the harvested fruit.
There is the possibility of further negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom and, therefore, an extension of the current commercial situation, with EU rules still in force. This would allow the current conditions to be extended without the commercial relations being affected in any way, other than the devaluation of the pound, which, according to Antonio Moreno of UPA, "is already having a direct impact on the exports to England."
An exit from the United Kingdom without an agreement would be a serious blow to the interests of the agricultural sector
A hypothetical second scenario would be that of a no deal 'Brexit'. In this case, it may be possible to agree on a transitory period for the trade of goods, which would alleviate the impact of the rupture and facilitate the signing of commercial alliances with the UK as a third country, with simple export protocols. However, there is also the possibility of a no deal 'Brexit' of immediate application, which would mean that the United Kingdom would immediately become a third country for the EU and, therefore, it would be impossible to close agreements and customs protocols for the next stone fruit and table grape campaign in the Region of Murcia. This would be a serious blow to the economy of the agricultural sector.
For Moreno, "the interruption of exports to the United Kingdom would have two immediate consequences: firstly, the loss of a destination country for our productions which absorbs just over 10% of our fruit and more than 30% of the table grapes. This means that those volumes would have to be shipped elsewhere in Europe, which would entail greater pressure on those markets and, consequently, a fall of prices and losses for stone fruit producers."
Ignoring the uncertainty of 'Brexit', the producers foresee a normal fruit campaign this year, with a good harvest. In any case, it will still be necessary to keep an eye on the weather in the month of February. At the same time, the harvest forecasts at European level have yet to be announced, according to the producers.